Basic Concepts

Learning with Computers

Try to grasp universal concepts

Some of the skills for using a computer can be used in different situations, the slight differences in how programs apply the task may need to be learned. Loading a program into memory and saving files to disk are concepts common to all programs. Program-specific commands will be learned more readily once you understand common operations.

Do not think it will be too hard.

Many new to computers fear they will never understand because they are not ‘brains’ or “computer types” or “good at maths.” Few of the popular programs require great mathematical knowledge or training. Drawing with computers, and playing cards surely does not.

You don’t have to be an expert

You don’t have to be a computer expert, or even of a particular application, to make good use of a program. To perform certain complex operations in some programs, try opening the manual and simply following the procedures without trying to memorise them. If you use a function enough, you”ll remember it.

Conquer the keyboard

If you”re going to be doing a lot of word processing work, it becomes a priority to be at ease with the keyboard. Use computer programs that teach typing and practise as often as possible. If you don’t know how to type, everything you do on the computer is going to seem awfully slow compared to those who do.

Diagnose your own errors

The phrase “garbage in, garbage out” dates back to the early days of computers, but it can be applied just as readily today. Just as software, or the set of instructions that programs a computer, gives the hardware its smarts, so will giving bad or false information make any computer look dumb. User error is the most frequent cause of a problem.

Look for on-screen help

Most early computer enthusiasts learned how to use their computers the hard way, by plowing through difficult, often poorly organised manuals or user guides. That”s no longer necessary, Today “help” screens are available and easily accessible in most programs.

Find the right program

If you find that a program is too difficult to learn and help is not readily available, try a different one. Many relatively easy-to-use programs cover the most common applications”word processing, spreadsheet, file or database management, graphing, and telecommunications”well enough so they”ll accomplish much of what people want to do. Don’t buy the most complicated (and expensive) programs unless you know you will really need them.

Adapted from: D.G. Dologite "Using Computers", 3rd Edition.