Using Your Computer
Using Your Computer
Ian Urquhart (Lead Developer, E-Haus, LLC.) gives expert video advice on: What software comes with my computer?; What extra software will I need if I want to make word documents and spreadsheets? and more...
What do I need to do to make my computer "power on" for the first time?
If you've just bought a new computer, you're probably wondering how to turn it on, or 'power up'. If you have it out of the box, get the cord that runs from the back of the computer into a power outlet. You want to do the same with your monitor, and note that the monitor has an extra cable that runs into the back of your computer. The last thing to do is to plug in your keyboard and your mouse, and if you have them, your speakers, printer, and scanner. If you're wondering where these all go, most new computers have a cheat sheet that comes with them that has nice big pictures which tell you exactly what goes where. If you're plugging your computer into a power outlet, I would suggest getting a surge protector before you plug it all in, because if there's a power surge, you won't damage your components.
In addition to my computer, what hardware will I need right away?
In addition to your computer, the hardware you're going to need right away just to get your computer up and running are: a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse. Everything else is secondary; those are the main components that you will need to get your computer up and running.
What software comes with my computer?
Most new computers come with software right out of the box. The most important being the operating system, which is basically the brain if your computer and without which, when you fired it up, all you would get is a blank screen. In addition to your operating system, computers come with a set of very basic applications: a text editor, a photo editor, an audio editor and sometimes even a movie editor. If you want to do anything more advanced, such as a spreadsheet, you'd have to buy additional software to install it to your computer.
What extra software will I need if I want to make word documents and spreadsheets?
The reality is, if you're looking to do anything more complicated than adding numbers on your computer, you're going to have to purchase additional software. There's several suites of software out there that you can buy that'll let you do word processing, presentations, spreadsheets, email and even video.
Do I need a power strip or battery backup?
Most people plug their computers straight into the wall. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but just to be on the safe side, I recommend that you get a surge protector so that if there's a power surge, it won't damage your components. They build computers pretty sturdily today, so there's a very good chance that nothing will happen if there's a power surge, but again it's always better to be on the safe side. If you want to go the one step further and be really safe, I'd recommend a battery backup. They're called UPS. That stands for uninterruptible power supply, and if you plug these in, it gives you an extra twenty minutes if the power goes down, so you can power down your components. There's enough energy stored on your battery, so that it gives you an extra couple of minutes to power it down safely.
When should I call a professional computer consultant?
If you've got to the point where you've done something really bad on your computer, but it's not smoking just yet, and you can't start it up, then it's time you get the Yellow Pages and look for a professional computer consultant to look at your computer. Don't call the guy next door, don't call your cousin Ed, and don't call your 13-year-old nephew - although sometimes he will know more than you.