you went to a car dealer with the idea of buying a new car, what
questions would you have to answer the salesperson? First, you’d be
asked to decide on the color, and then on the seat covers. Right?
of a computer, like a car, as a tool that can serve many purposes,
depending on your needs. A graphic artist will need a computer with
vast hard drive capacity and speed, along with a large monitor with
great resolution. A secretary who uses it mainly to type and keep
records could get away with much less. What determines capacity, speed
and other options on a computer?
the mama of all the circuits that run your machine. She’s covered
with little soldered nodules
that connect things to each other.
central processing unit that processes all of those little circuits to
do stuff you want. The CPU is the brains of your machine, so you want
to get a good one. If you have a PC (as opposed to a Mac), you’ll
probably be offered a Pentium Processor. Get the latest and ask what
the differences are.
storing data — The hard drive is unseen, unless you buy an external
support drive. It resides in a little box that can often be upgraded.
The hard drive holds all of the data you produce along with all of the
applications to produce the data. The bigger the hard drive, the more
you can hold, of course. My computer has 25 GB. I have another
external hard drive where I store all of my backups. It has 120 GB.
(Cost me about $150 at Wal-Mart, I believe. Not bad.) You can also
have other drives to store and share information: a floppy, a CD, a
DVD, or a Zip. I bought a little unit for $18 dollars that I carry on
my key chain. It’s smaller than my thumb, but it holds as much
information as a Zip disc. I place it in any USB port, and it makes
itself into another drive. (A USB port is a the little horizontal or
vertical slot, about 2/3 inch long, where you can plug in different
devices to talk to your computer.)
System or platform—
Your computer manages the data and its many relationships through a
platform, and software companies develop applications for that
platform. MS Windows is a family of operating systems that runs on
approximately 90% of all personal computers. The remaining run
Macintosh systems. Get the latest (now XP with Service Pack 2) if you
are in the training business since software keeps up with those
many applications can you work on at the same time? Well, ask your RAM,
which is your computer’s main memory system. The more RAM, the
easier you are able to work. My computer has 256 MB (256 million
bytes) of RAM. Always get as much as you can afford and avoid all
those nagging freezes and glitches. Your computer also has ROM memory
that is permanently on a chip on your mother board. You can write into
and erase from RAM memory, but ROM is there to stay. Don’t worry
about it. You wouldn’t want to erase any of that stuff anyway.
as much as you can afford! Your processing speed is measured in GHZ
these days. That tells you how many instructions per second your
computer can process. We’re talking power here. My machine operates
at 1.70 GHZ, or 1.7 billion cycles per second.
Storage devices, like drives, store software or programs and the data
they manage. When you are buying a computer, make sure you ask if the
software (MS Office, Web Browser, Acrobat Reader) is loaded on the
machine, and make sure you get a hard copy of the software installed
as well, just in case you have to reload.
before you buy or order a computer, ask about the items that are
important to you:
processor does it use?
the hard drive capacity and can more memory be added?
RAM comes with it and can it be upgraded?
does it process (GHZ)?
applications come with it?
drives does it include? (More and more computers now have CD and
DVD writers and readers instead of the old floppy drives)
operating system does it use?
many USB ports come with it? (You can buy hubs to add ports to any
ask about the monitor
and its display screen. If you work with graphics, get a big monitor
(at least 17 inches) with good resolution. The resolution indicates
how closely packed the pixels are on the screen. The more pixels or
dots per inch, the sharper the images.
Standard color monitors these days display a resolution of 1024
X 768 pixels. Go up from there.
The new flat-screen monitors with super resolutions are a real delight
- easy on your eyes and soft on the soul.
find out other things that you think are important, like cost, weight,
color, tower or flat, and more. Ask about warranties, on-site service
and the accessibility of technical help. If you can’t get technical
help look somewhere else.
Cortez, we order most equipment from a company that provides full
technical help and a seven-year warranty on the equipment. I never
have to return a machine because if something goes wrong, they send me
the part and walk me through the process. That’s the kind of service
you want. E-mail me if you want information on that company.
should you pay for a desktop with decent features? Anywhere from $ 900
to $1500, I estimate. Laptops cost $200-$300 more. It all depends on
what capacity, speed, memory (RAM), software and gadgets you want.
Start at a basic $600 and start adding!
Mountain PBS has
scheduled a special session of online courses for teachers who want to
earn college credit over the holidays. And to kick off the
season, the first 50 teachers who register by Friday, November 26 will
receive a $20 Target gift card. Most of their course target K-12, but
I've found that the material is adaptable (and should be) to adult
Enrollment is now open for these courses that begin December 1 and end
on January 12. Registration closes Tuesday, November 30.
Math 245: Rational Numbers, Fractions, Decimals and Percents
RDLA 165: Teaching Phonics and Spelling for Beginning and Transitional
RDLA 190: Teaching Narrative and Expository Comprehension
Tech 315: Using the Computer for Cooperative Experiences
For more information
and to register for courses, go to http://www.pbs.org/teacherline,
click on "catalog" and choose Colorado. If your PROGRAM
will be paying your registration fee, DO NOT register via the website.
Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
instead. Tell them you heard it here first! Thanks for passing on the
a few memories of the October
AEFLA training held in Cortez, go to http://www.swadulted.com/techbeat/AEFLATrngpics.htm