Quick Guide into the World of ICT
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A computer is a device that processes data according to a set of instructions. It has been used to transform almost all the aspects of how humans live and work. Just like many useful inventions computers have evolved at a rapid pace i.e. from Mainframe Computers, Personal Computers (PC), Laptops, Tablets and a host of other portable devices that we can use.
As there is continuous pressure on humans to keep improving their lives, computers play an important role in almost all sectors i.e. communication, business, governance and many other areas. This book has been developed as an introduction to the basics not a complete guide to allow users who have limited time constraints to easily read through, and get a view into the world of computers. It also has an assortment of quizzes at the end of each chapter to allow the user to easily gauge their progress or whether to redo the chapter.
- What is a computer and describe some of its uses?
- Name the different types of computers available on the market.
Hardware and Software
A computer is generally divided into two major areas that is Hardware and Software. The hardware is the physical parts of a computer that you can touch and feel e.g. the keyboard. The software consists of the various programs that allow the user to interact with the computer e.g. Microsoft Windows.
Hardware is also divided into four different areas that allow the user to easily understand how the computer works i.e. Input, Output, Memory/Storage and Processing.
Input devices are the devices that we use to send messages/instructions to the computer. Examples of input devices are the touch screen monitor, keyboard and mouse. Output devices are the products that give us the feedback of the actions that the computer after it has processed the request e.g. the screen (monitor), speakers, printers, etc. The computer memory is where all the information is stored and can be later retrieved for use e.g. Random Access Memory (RAM) is the short-term memory where information is stored for a short-time, or the Hard Disk Drive (used for long-term storage of information), the USB Flash Drive, DVDs and CDs. Lastly the Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the part of the computer that processes/performs the different calculations on the computer.
The table below includes the different kinds of hardware available on the market that you can use to quickly get started. Note: They are other types of hardware that are not included in the table below.
|Power Supply||This is a device that sends electrical power to your computer, it is found inside the CPU.|
|Central Processing Unit (CPU)||Processing||This is the brain of the computer where all the calculations and processes are done. Most of the other devices are connected to the CPU for processing of information.|
|Random Access Memory (RAM)||Memory||This is the short-term/temporary memory of the computer where actions are stored briefly and send to the CPU for processing.|
|Hard Disk Drive/Hard Drive||Memory||This is the long-term memory of the computer where files and computer programs (software) are stored for retrieval as and when the user wants.|
|Monitor/Screen||Input/Output||This is what allows the user to visually see the results of the actions they are currently working on. With the emergence of touchscreen monitors it is also an input device as you can touch the screen and it send the instructions to your computer.|
|Printer||Output||This is a device that is used to print text or pictures to paper.|
|Mouse||Input||This is a pointing device that is used to move and select areas that you want to access on a graphical display/ graphical user interface (GUI).|
|Keyboard||Input||This is a device that is used to type instructions to the computer by pressing buttons and selecting what you want to do.|
They are two ways to classify how the software works i.e. based on its use or how it was acquired. When classifying software on how it was acquired it can be either open source meaning you got it for free and are free to make changes on the software e.g. Linux operating system, or licenced where meaning the user should pay a fee to be able to use the software e.g. Microsoft licences it products to the user based on a fee like their Windows operating system. By classifying software based on its intended use there is the Operating System Software (OS) or Application Software.
Operating system (OS) software works on the background operations that have the general instructions on how you can use the computer. It also determines the different applications that can be installed on your computer, an example of different operating system on the market include:
|Operating System (OS)||Licenced/Open Source||Description|
|Microsoft Windows||Licenced||This is one of the worlds’ most widely used licenced OS that is developed by Microsoft. Visit www.microsoft.com for more details.|
|Mac OS||Licenced||Most apple devices used the Mac OS as a direct competitor to Microsoft. Visit www.apple.com/macos.|
|Linux||Open Source||This is the most used OS in the world and it is developed by multiple companies and is used in multiple devices. Our mobile devices (phones) use a variant of the Linux OS through Android that was developed by Google. Visit https://www.linuxfoundation.org for more details.|
Application Software are the programs that actually allow the user to perform the different specific tasks e.g. typing a document, accessing the internet, among others. Application software has to be installed on a computer that already has an Operating System (OS) installed and it cannot work without the OS. They are a wide range of application software but the table below will just show the basic software that are used by most people in various environments.
|Word Processing||It is a type of software that helps in creating, editing, formatting, and printing of documents.||Microsoft Office Word, Notepad, Wordpad|
|Spreadsheet||Just like word processing software it is mainly used for mathematical computations and keeping data in a tabular format.||Microsoft Office Excel|
|Presentation||It is used to present information in a slide show format mainly for presentations.||Microsoft Office PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat, Corel Presentation|
|Database||It is a program that is used to capture, analyze and store data from the user, and it can also interact with other applications to present the data.||Microsoft Office Access, Microsoft SQL Server, SQLite, MySQL, SAP|
|Web Browser||It is a software that is used to retrieve, present and share information on the internet (World Wide Web/WWW).||Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera|
|Security||These are applications that are used to keep the user’s data safe, the most popular type of security software is Anti-virus software.||ESET NOD32, Avira, McAfee, Symantec, Norton, BitDefender, Kaspesky, Microsoft Defender|
Note: They are a lot of different types of application software available on the market that cater for a wide range of industries, thus the user has to search for the appropriate application they would like to use.
- What is the difference between Hardware and Software?
- What are the 4 classifications of Hardware?
- Describe 4 different hardware items and their uses.
- What are the two ways we can differentiate between software?
- What is the difference between operating system (OS) software and application software and give examples of each?
Networks and the Internet
The need for people to communicate and share information has also influenced the creation of computer networks. A computer network is a platform where computers and other devices (e.g. mobile phones) are connected to a network using various methods.
Types of Networks
Computers can be connected to each other using either physical cables or wirelessly using radio waves for communication. In more recent times due to the development of technology networks can also be merged to form a single network that uses both wireless and physical methods to connect devices. An example: a company can install both a wireless and cable connections on their office network to allow users to access resources on their portable devices (laptops, phones) and on their desktops (that require connection through the use of cables).
Both types of networks have hardware devices that are used to connect users as shown on the table below.
|Cables||Communications cables used to connect devices physically to a network e.g. Fibre Optic Cable, UTP and general telephone cables.|
|Access Points||Wireless devices that send a signal to multiple devices (WiFi as most people call it) enabling the users to connect to a network.|
|Switches||A device that is used to connect multiple devices to network using cables.|
|Router||A device that is used to connect multiple networks together so they can share information and files.|
The internet is an example of a network where different networks are connected together thus making a large single network the World Wide Web (www). To be able to access the internet one has to have a computer/device that is connected to a network connected to other networks and mainly a web browser to be able to view the information available on the internet.
Who owns the internet? No one owns the internet and it is a resource that can be accessed and used by anyone in the world as long as they are willing to connect with other networks, thus removing the physical borders allowing people to easily communicate and share ideas. The benefits of connecting to the internet are many but users just have to know how to keep themselves safe when they are connected to the internet.
- What is a computer network?
- What are the different types of computer networks?
- Name 2 types of network hardware that are used to connect users to a network.
- What is the Internet and can you name the benefits of using the Internet?
Hope this quick guide will help you to quickly get started into your journey into the world of computing and other areas that one can explore using computer and computer devices. Other areas you can explore in the world of computers include and a short link is given to see how you can further proceed:
Also I have used the following https://www.wikipedia.org a free online content website that offers a lot of free information that can get you started into multiple industries. It has assisted me to create this small book, and hopefully others as I explore other areas to get you going.