Helping You Become Acquainted with Your Personal Computer

1.What are resoulution settings and how can I change them?
2.What is a Portal?
3.How do I select a Printer?
4.How can I customize my desktop?
5.What can I do to prevent system crashes?
6.What are some common Internet error messages and what do they mean?
7.What are cookies? How can I delete them? Where are they stored on my machine?
8.How can I search the Internet more effectively?
9.How exactly does a virus behave and how can I detect if I have one on my computer?
10.What can make setting up a PC easier?

1.What are resolution settings and how can I change them?
For graphics monitors, the screen resolution signifies the number of dots pixels on the entire screen. For example, a 640-by-480 pixel screen is capable of displaying 640 distinct dots on each of 480 lines, or about 300,000 pixels. This translates into different dpi measurements depending on the size of the screen.

Printers, monitors, scanners, and other I/O devices are often classified as high resolution, medium resolution, or low resolution. The actual resolution ranges for each of these grades is constantly shifting as the technology improves.

The size of the monitor does not determine the screen resolution. The bigger the monitor, the bigger the screen resolution you can use. Everything gets smaller as the resolution goes up. That's because the monitor is displaying a larger number of pixels in the same screen space. The larger the resolution, the more you can fit on the screen. Web pages are almost always too large to fit on one screen, so a larger resolution is better.

To change your resolution settings, click on the Start button, Settings, Control Panel. Click on the Display icon, then click on the Settings tab.
Setting the number of colors is also important. The best practical resolution to use on the Web is 64,000 colors (High Color-16 bit). You can get near photographic quality using thousands of colors, and you'll find many web graphics look much better than when your display is set to only 256 colors.

2.What is a portal?
A portal is a site that incorporates a lot of different aspects of the Internet. Not only is it a search site, it also provides Internet services: email, chat rooms, free personal webpages, shopping, guides, etc. Yahoo and Excite are very good examples of portals.

The primary goal of most portals is to make navigation around the Internet as simple as possible for the user. Portals using Web pages for their user interface will, for instance, often include numerous hyperlinks on the front page.

There are two basic types of portals, horizontal and vertical. Yahoo is the best example of a horizontal portal. Horizontal portals usually are chock full of links to ease the user's navigation. A vertical portal tends to focus more on a specific subject area. An example of a vertical portal is Ebay.

3.How do I select a printer?
Selecting a printer does not need to be that difficult, providing you have a clear understanding of the user's printing needs. Following are a few questions you should ask yourself before buying a computer. The answers will help you single out the kind of printer you should be looking for.

  • What is the printer budget? Dot Matrix and Inkjet printers are usually the least expensive solutions while laser and thermal printers cost more.
  • What output quality is required? The output quality is referred to as resolution: a high-quality printout will have a resolution exceeding 300 dpi (dots per inch).
  • Is color output required? A color requirement will limit the decision.
  • What is the estimated print volume? Higher duty cycles (more than 20,000 pages per month) are better for continuous printing environments than lower duty cycles. If higher speed printers are required, pay special attention to the ppm (pages per minutes) number for the printer.
  • What type of paper will be used? Basic paper trays should suffice for word processing documents; however, if labels, posters, transparencies, or forms are required, then enlarged or additional paper trays should be considered.
  • Who will be using this printer? This question van help anticipate network requirements and also determine if a single printer will be sufficient.
  • What platforms must the printer support? Operating in a mixed environment (PCs, UNIX, Macintosh) may require an open platform solution.
  • What connectivity does the printer feature? Without the proper protocols, many printers are unable to print efficiently in mixed environments.
  • Is print job management featured? Effective management software can enable easy monitoring of printers.
  • What special options are available? Enhancements such as multi-lingual controls, locking mailboxes, specialized paper trays or extended font capabilities can be deciding factors.
  • How much will consumables cost? Affordable printers sometimes require more maintenance and consumables, such as toner and cartridges, than high-cost printers.
  • Does the supplier offer full service and support? Double-check suppliers' warranties (on-site or return-to-factory) and services, especially if your company does not have technical staff in-house.

4.How can I customize my desktop?
A desktop is what appears on your monitor every time you start windows. A desktop consists of pictures, called icons, that show cabinets, files, folders, and various types of documents. You can arrange the icons on the electronic desktop just as you can arrange real objects on a real desktop -- moving them around, putting one on top of another, reshuffling them, and throwing them away.

You can easily liven up your desktop by using a graphic image as wallpaper. Any bitmap image can be used as wallpaper. If the Active Desktop feature is enabled from Internet Explorer 4 or Windows 98, you can also use JPEG or GIF images.

The first step in changing your wallpaper is to check your screen resolution. You do this by opening the Display option in the Control Panel and click the Settings tab. Make sure the Colors box is set to High Color or True Color. If your color depth is set at 256 colors or less, your wallpaper will not look good.

The next step is finding an image to use as your wallpaper. The Web is filled with free, downloadable wallpaper. Also, any image you see in an Internet window can be used as wallpaper. All you have to do is right click on the picture then choose Save as Wallpaper from the shortcut menu. You can also select an image you have saved on your hard drive by opening the Display option in the Control Panel, selecting the Background tab and clicking the Browse button. The image you select should match your current screen resolution if you want it to fill your whole screen. If you do not want your icons to get lost in your image, the image you choose should be cropped smaller than your resolution so room will be left around the edges for your icons.

You can choose one of three ways to have your wallpaper displayed from the Background tab of the Display option in the Control Panel. Your three choices for displaying the image are Center, Tile, and Stretch. If you have selected an image that is going to fill your entire screen, choose Center. The Tile option should be selected if you want to display many copies of a small image over the entire screen. Stretch lets you take an image that almost fits your entire desktop and expand it to fill your entire screen.

5.What can I do to prevent system crashes?
Firstly, make sure you shut down your computer properly! If the power goes out, or the plug gets unplugged, or the reset button is pushed the operating system doesn't get a chance to put everything away nicely. Bits of open files get put in strange places. So the data files and programs which were open during a crash might not work properly. That's why newer computers automatically run a disk scanning program after an improper try to find and clean up any stray bits of files which got stuck in odd places. That's also why it's a good idea to reinstall a program which is acting strangely after a crash.

Another suggestion is to restart your computer before opening a program that is a big RAM user (like Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop) or after you've been in and out of a program several times, or when you've had a bunch of things going simultaneously. The reason for this is because of the way memory space is distributed. When you close a program, the space that was used in memory is still left and cannot be reused unless a program that takes less or the same amount of memory as the initial program did comes along. If the new program is bigger, it is forced to take up new memory space and the old memory space that wasn't large enough to hold the program is left unused. Eventually, if you open and close enough programs, there will not be enough contiguous space to open the next program. The computer will experience being "out of memory" (Even though everything else was put away and you have a great big 64 mb of RAM!) and will freeze or crash.

6.What are some common Internet error messages and what do they mean?

  • 3000- 404 Not Found - The 404 Not Found message normally occurs when the browser can not find the document that has been requested on the host computer
  • 3001- 403 Forbidden/Access Denied - The site you are trying to access may require special access permission and/or a password
  • 3002- 503 Service Unavailable - This message happens commonly to a site that is popular and gets lots of hits; it also happens to sites that are not prepared for the load of traffic coming into the site. This generally means that computer that the site is located on, is filled to capacity and won't accept more users until some leave the site.
  • 3003- Bad File Request - This type of error occurs when the form or HTML coding for an online form has an error in it.
  • 3004- Cannot Add Form Submission Result to Bookmark - This message appears when attempting to place the results of a search on a search engine into your bookmarks
  • 3005- Connection Refused by Host - This message is similar to the 403 error. It occurs when you request a Web Site that requires special access permission to open the page.
  • 3006- Failed DNS Lookup - Your web browser was unable to find the Internet Protocol (IP) number of the site you were trying to connect to. The browser needs to know the IP number in order to make the connection. This is usually caused by having an incorrect Web URL, but can also be caused by overloading on the Internet.
  • 3007- HTTP Server at Compressed .com:8080 Replies: HTTP/1.0 500 Error from Proxy - This error usually comes up when you're in an office Internet network - when your computer isn't hooked directly into the Internet via a modem. If your computer is on an office LAN, then you usually have a proxy server. If the problem keeps appearing, contact your office LAN administrator - they are usually the people who have set up the LAN and will be able to make sure your computer has the correct settings
  • 3008- File Contains No Data - Your web browser was able to find the web site, but was not able to open the specific page you were after because the file was empty
  • 3009- Helper Application Not Found - When you are downloading a file from the Web, sometimes your web browser has a helper program to let your computer use that file. This error means that your browser tried to open the helper program, but was unable to. In your browser's preferences or options menu, make sure that the correct directory and filename are entered for the helper program.
  • 30010- NNTP Server Error - The browser could not open the Usenet newsgroup that you were trying to read. Make sure that the news server address is correctly listed in your web browser's options menu, and then try again.
  • 30011- Not Found - The link you are trying to access no longer exists - possibly the page was taken down by its owner, or its owner has moved to a different web site.
  • 30012- Site Unavailable - The most common cause of this error message is that too many people are trying to use the web site. The site could also be down for maintenance, experiencing a network problem, or the site may no longer exist. This could also be caused by typing in the Web address incorrectly
  • 30013- TCP Error Encountered While Sending Request to Server - This error means that your browser is having trouble sending or receiving without errors. This is usually network related - report the problem to your network administrator and try again later.
  • 30014- Too Many Users - The site is currently busy; usually the best strategy is to wait a while and try accessing the web site again.
  • 30015- Unable to Locate Host - The web browser was unable to find the web page that you were trying to go to. Some reasons for this are that the site is unavailable, is not responding, or that the connection between your computer and the Internet has been disconnected. Check the connection to the Internet, and make sure that you have the correct web page URL.
  • 30016- Cannot Connect to Server - This error can occur if you are using a Secure Socket Lays (SSL) security ("https" at the beginning of the URL) when you are connecting to certain Web servers.

7.What are cookies? How can I delete them? Where are they stored on my machine?
Cookies are used on the Internet to pass some information to another system. The cookie is a text file saved in your browser's directory or folder and stored in RAM while your browser is running. Most of the information in a cookie is pretty mundane stuff, but some Web sites use cookies to store personal preferences. If you want to see what information is stored in your cookie file, use a text editor or a word processor to open a file called cookies.txt or MagicCookie in your browser's folder or directory.

Microsoft saves cookies into the "Temporary Internet Files" folder, a system folder that you can set the maximum size of (the default is 2% of your hard drive). Whether you use Netscape or Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE), your cookies are saved to a simple text file that you can delete as you please.

In order to do this properly, remember to close your browser first. This is because all your cookies are held in memory until you close your browser. So, if you delete the file with your browser open, it will make a new file when you close it, and your cookies will be back. Remember that deleting your cookie file entirely will cause you to "start from scratch" with every web site you usually visit. So, it may be preferable to open the cookies.txt file (in the case of Netscape) and remove only the entries you don't like, or go to the cookies folder (in the case of MSIE) and delete the files from servers you don't want.

8.How can I search the Internet more effectively?
The following are some tips that should help you out in your searches on the Internet.

  • Use a subject directory when doing a very general search. Hierarchical lists guide you to relevant sites.
  • Use a search engine to search for a more specific item but be prepared to wade through irrelevant sites. Ensure that the search engine syntax is used to effectively find results quickly.
  • Always use more than one search engine if you want to do a comprehensive search. No one search engine covers the whole of the World Wide Web.
  • Always remember to read the help available for each search engine. This will provide hints on how to retrieve the best result. Use a meta-search tool to search for a specific item quickly but don't expect to find all the relevant information.
  • Avoid using common words where possible. You are less likely to retrieve a precise result.
  • Consider synonyms. Spend some time working out a search strategy for your topic.
  • Remember that you can exclude certain terms from your search depending on which search engine you are using Remember that many of the search engines can be case sensitive - take advantage of this

Why is my browser version important? How do I upgrade?
If you are viewing pages with an older browser, then the colors will not appear normally, everything will be pushed to the left and some javascripting may not work. Most web sites are now designed to use the new browsers and by using an older browser (such as the one used by AOL 2.5 or Navigator 2.x), you are missing out on a lot.
To correct these problems, you need to upgrade your browser. There are usually no costs involved. To download an upgraded version of your current browser, simply visit the website of your particular browser (such as Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Internet Explorer or America Online.)

9.How exactly does a virus behave and how can I detect if I have one on my computer?
A virus is a computer program intentionally designed to associate itself with another computer program in a way that when the original program is run, the virus program is run as well, and the virus replicates itself by attaching itself to other programs. The virus associates itself with the original program by attaching itself to that program or even by replacing it, and the replication is sometimes in the form of a modified version of the virus program.

Viruses are malicious programs designed entirely for destruction and havoc. Viruses are created by people who either know a lot about programming or know a lot about computers. Once the virus is made it will generally be distributed through shareware, pirated software, e-mail, or other various ways of transporting data, once the virus infects someone's computer it will either start infecting other data, destroying data, over writing data, or corrupting software.

The most commonly used method of protecting against and detecting viruses is to purchase a third party application designed to scan for all types of viruses. Popular anti-virus software is McAfee Virus Scan, Norton and iRiS AntiVirus.

10.What can make setting up a PC easier?
First things first, when you purchase a new PC, keep everything! That means all of your paperwork, the boxes the equipment came in and all of the disks that came with your purchase. You never know when you may become in need of any of these materials in the future.

When it comes to actually setting up our personal computer, be sure to read all of the instructions carefully and completely before beginning your adventure. You should also make sure you invest in a surge protector. This is very important, as it will protect your computer against electrical damage. Don't plug your computer in without one!
While in the process of assembling your system, make sure all components, including your surge protector are turned off before you being plugging things in and connecting cables. Never force a cable into a connection which it does not fit. If it seems too tight, you either are attempting to plug the cable in at the wrong end or in the wrong spot!
Br sure to plug all the power cables into the surge protector, plug the surge protector into the wall, then turn the surge protector on. When you have connected to a power source, first turn the PC on, then the monitor and finally any peripherals.