Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics (3rd Edition)

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9780789734303: Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics (3rd Edition)

Think setting up your new PC is going to be a challenge that you don't have time for? Think again. Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics, Third Edition can make setting up and learning about your new computer fun and easy. Step-by-step instructions and helpful illustrations will show you how to set up your computer, begin using Microsoft Windows XP and personalize your Windows XP experience. You'll also learn how to:

  • Work with files and folders
  • Add new hardware and devices to your system
  • Perform maintenance and diagnose common problems
  • Install new software
  • Use the Internet
  • Protect your PC from viruses, spam and other nuisances
This latest edition has been updated to include coverage of Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows Media Player 10 and 802.11g wireless networks. You'll also get the chance to explore how to use portable media players, safely shop online, buy and sell things on eBay, and how to use your digital camera and software to create digital scrapbooks. Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics, Third Edition is the most up-to-date guide for beginning computer users on the market and will be the only book you need to get up and running with your computer.

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About the Author:

Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics, Third EditionAbout the Author

Michael Miller is a successful and prolific author with a reputation for practical advice and technical accuracy and an unerring empathy for the needs of his readers.

Mr. Miller has written more than 60 best-selling books in the past 15 years. His books for Que include Absolute Beginner's Guide to eBay, Tricks of the eBay Masters, and Bad Pics Fixed Quick. He is known for his casual, easy-to-read writing style and his practical, real-world advice—as well as his ability to explain a wide variety of complex topics to an everyday audience.

You can email Mr. Miller directly at abg@molehillgroup.com. His website is located at http://www.molehillgroup.com.


© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction

Introduction

Because this is the Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics, let's start at the absolute beginning, which is this:

Computers aren't supposed to be scary.

Intimidating, sometimes. Difficult to use, perhaps. Inherently unreliable, most definitely. (Although they're better than they used to be.)

But scary? Definitely not.

Computers aren't scary because there's nothing they can do to hurt you. And there's not much you can do to hurt them, either. It's kind of a wary coexistence between man and machine, but the relationship has the potential to be quite beneficial. To you, anyway.

A lot of people think that they're scared of computers because they think they're unfamiliar with them. But that isn't really true.

You see, even if you've never actually used a computer before, you've been exposed to computers and all they can do for at least the last 20 years or so. Whenever you make a deposit at your bank, you're working with computers. Whenever you make a purchase at a retail store, you're working with computers. Whenever you watch a television show, or read a newspaper article, or look at a picture in a magazine, you're working with computers.That's because computers are used in all those applications.

In fact, it's hard to imagine, here at the dawn of the twenty-first century, how we ever got by without all those keyboards, mice, and monitors. (Or, for that matter, the Internet.)

However, just because computers have been around for awhile doesn't mean that everyone knows how to use them. It's not unusual to feel a little trepidation the first time you sit down in front of that intimidating monitor and keyboard. Which keys should you press? What do they mean by double-clicking the mouse? And what are all those little pictures onscreen?

As foreign as all this might seem at first, computers really aren't that hard to understand—or to use. You have to learn a few basic concepts, of course (all the pressing and clicking and whatnot), and it helps to understand exactly what part of the system does what. But once you get the hang of things, computers really are fairly easy to use.

Which, of course, is where this book comes in.

Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics, Third Edition, will help you figure out how to use your new computer system. You'll learn how computers work, how to connect all the pieces and parts together, and how to start using them. You'll learn about computer hardware and software, about Windows and operating systems, and about the Internet. And after you're comfortable with the basic concepts (which won't take too long, trust me), you'll learn how to actually do stuff.

You'll learn how to do useful stuff, like writing letters and balancing your checkbook and creating presentations. Fun stuff, like listening to music and watching movies and playing games. Online stuff, like searching for information and sending email and chatting with friends via instant messages. And essential stuff, like copying files and troubleshooting problems and protecting against thieves and hackers.

All you have to do is sit yourself down in front of your computer, try not to be scared (there's nothing to be scared of, really), and work your way through the chapters and activities in this book. And remember that computers aren't hard to use, they don't break easily, and they let you do all sorts of fun and useful stuff once you get the hang of them. Really!

How This Book Is Organized

This book is organized into seven main parts, as follows:

  • Part I, "Getting Started," describes all the pieces and parts of your system, and how to connect them together to get your new PC up and running.

  • Part II, "Using Windows," introduces the backbone of your entire system, the Microsoft Windows operating system. You'll learn how Windows works, and how to use Windows to perform basic tasks, such as copying and deleting files and folders. (You'll also learn fun stuff, like how to change the picture on your computer desktop.)

  • Part III, "Upgrading and Maintaining Your System," contains all the boring (but necessary) information you need to know to keep your new PC in tip-top shape. You'll learn how to add new pieces of hardware to your system, how to set up either a wired or wireless home network, how to perform routine maintenance, and how to track down and fix common PC problems.

  • Part IV, "Using Computer Software," tells you everything you need to know about running the most popular computer programs. You'll learn how to use Microsoft Works, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Money, and all sorts of other programs—including fun PC games.

  • Part V, "Using the Internet," is all about going online. You'll discover how to surf the Web, send and receive email, use instant messaging and chat, and download files. You'll also learn how to shop online, buy and sell in eBay auctions, and create your own personal web page—and how to protect your system from computer viruses, email spam, and other nuisances.

  • Part VI, "Playing Movies and Music," shows you how to download and play digital music files, how to burn your own music CDs, and how to watch DVDs on your computer screen.

  • Part VII, "Working with Digital Pictures," describes how to use your PC with your digital camera and scanner, as well as how to manage and edit your digital photos, and create digital scrapbooks and other photo projects.

Taken together, the 38 chapters in this book will help you progress from absolute beginner to experienced computer user. Just read what you need, and before long you'll be using your computer like a pro!

Conventions Used in This Book

I hope that this book is easy enough to figure out on its own, without requiring its own instruction manual. As you read through the pages, however, it helps to know precisely how I've presented specific types of information.

Menu Commands

Most computer programs operate via a series of pull-down menus. You use your mouse to pull down a menu and then select an option from that menu. This sort of operation is indicated like this throughout the book:

Select File, Save

or

Click the Start button and select All Programs, Accessories, Notepad.

All you have to do is follow the instructions in order, using your mouse to click each item in turn. When there are submenus tacked onto the main menu (as in the All Programs, Accessories, Notepad example), just keep clicking the selections until you come to the last one—which should open the program or activate the command you wanted!

Shortcut Key Combinations

When you're using your computer keyboard, sometimes you have to press two keys at the same time. These two-key combinations are called shortcut keys and are shown as the key names joined with a plus sign (+).

For example, Ctrl+W indicates that you should press the W key while holding down the Ctrl key. It's no more complex than that.

Web Page Addresses

There are a lot of web page addresses in this book. (That's because you'll probably be spending a lot of time on the Internet.) They're noted as such:

Technically, a web page address is supposed to start with http:// (as in http://www.molehillgroup.com). Because Internet Explorer and other web browsers automatically insert this piece of the address, however, you don't have to type it—and I haven't included it in any of the addresses in this book.

Special Elements

This book also includes a few special elements that provide additional information not included in the basic text. These elemen...

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