Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Learning the Ins and Outs of PCs

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Learning the Ins and Outs of PCs

Article excerpt

PERSONAL COMPUTING

Research has shown that those who are least comfortable with computer technology have the least knowledge of it. Those who have undergone training or taught themselves are less stressed and better able to take advantage of PCs. Makes sense.

Even experts don't know all the tricks. What follows are ways, some commonsensical, some not, that beginners as well as advanced users can bone up on personal computers.

Read the manual. Hardware and software manuals are both better and shorter than they used to be. Most people still don't read them. Taking a few minutes to at least browse through the manual can save a lot of time later by familiarizing yourself with a product's core features.

Go through the tutorial. Many programs include teaching aids that hold your hand in learning basic procedures. Another option is to buy a third-party tutorial on video or CDROM. Video tutorials are better if you're a beginner and uncomfortable with using a computer in the first place. CD-ROM tutorials let you interactively try out what you're learning. Top tutorial makers include KeyStone Learning Systems (800-748-4838, ) and MacAcademy/Windows Academy (800-5271914, .

Use the online help system. Hitting FI or pulling down the Help menu provides quick help. Some software companies offer "intelligent agents" that anticipate help you may need in carrying out tasks. While useful for beginners, these help assistants can become annoying over time. Fortunately, you can turn them off. Using a program's help system manually by browsing through its contents or launching a targeted search can be a great way to get up to speed on your terms.

Check out the manufacturer's Web site. You often can find answers there to commonly asked questions along with other tips, bug fixes, and software downloads. Web sites usually are listed in manuals or as part of the help system. You also can find links to the sites of thousands of computer manufacturers at the Guide to Computer Vendors .

Explore third-party Web sites. You'll find free advice and software updates at sites such as Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows , Macintosh Watering Hole , and Internet 101.org . Yahoo lists other popular computer help sites in its Technical Guides and Support section .

Subscribe to a computer magazine. Magazines offer lots of well-written, well-organized tips, reviews and commentary for beginners and experts alike. …

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