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Computer Tutorials

computer tutorials



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Computer Tutorials

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Computer Tutorials

computer tutorials
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HOW COMPUTERS WORK
AND HOW TO MAKE THEM RUN BETTER

If you would like to learn computer how your works, how to make it run faster and how to fix common problems you have come to the right place.

BEFORE

    Before explaining to you how to fix the problems I want to take a few minutes and explain to you how your computer was designed to work and what has gone wrong.  Believe me, when it comes to computers, understanding how they work is half the key to solving problems on them.

COMPUTERS

     Computers are designed as a fine tuned machine.  Everything is perfect (okay, well it was supposed to be) when you take it out of the box.  All the settings are right, all the adjustments are already made, the software is installed.  Basically, it's all systems go.

DESIGN FLAWS

    If everything goes as planned by the engineers that designed it, you should be humming along at full speed and you should feel like a test pilot driving a lean mean computing machine.  Unfortunately, not everything goes as planned.  For starters, the IIC (Idiots In Charge), pronounced "Aye Aye See", decide to make a few changes (more money in their pockets) to what the design engineers had in mind.  They add tons and tons of free software (sounds like a good deal, right?), then they set up the 'extra' software to "start and load" itself each time you turn on the computer (the software companies pay them big bucks for doing this).  Basically, this means your computer is already loaded with an "unnecessary" load on it's system resources the second you turn it on.  Already your computer is running slower than it was designed to.  Then, as you use your computer, you add more programs (using some of them only once) that add to the daily workload of your computer. To top it all off, your computer begins to accumulate junk files, temporary files, cookies and other types of garbage.  At first your computer just runs slower, but as more and more of a load is placed on it, random errors begin, then it crashes and finally your lean mean computing machine is turned into a turtle standing in a puddle of superglue (It may be alive, but it isn't going anywhere fast).

HOW COMPUTERS ARE DESIGNED TO WORK

    Now I'm going to teach you how a computer works (Don't be afraid, this is actually easy and fun), so that you will be able to understand what happens when something goes wrong.

    Let's pretend you are watching and participating in all that follows on your TV (thru your monitor).  You are driving up to a big square building (the computer).  It turns out that the building is a library.  You're thinking that the library looks brand new.  You enter thru the front door.  The library is huge inside.  It's carpeted, but you don't really like the color.  There are hundreds of shelves sitting in nice neat rows on top of the carpet.  You're thinking to yourself, "Ah. I was right! The library is brand new" because while there are hundreds of shelves (Folders) only about a dozen shelves have books (files) on them, and these are all grouped together "neatly" on the shelves at the front of the library.  You walk closer; all the books seem to be in order.  No, not in alphabetical order, but by subject, as if someone has organized all the books so that they could quickly and easily access all books on any given subject as quickly as possible.  You stop and think to yourself, someone has spent a lot of time and effort designing a perfect storage area for information, but so far all they have are the basic books, nothing has been added yet.

    Let's stop here and pause (Hit the pause key please - Just kidding).  What you have just done is look in thru your monitor and seen the insides of your computer as it was designed by a designer.  The portal you used to look inside the library was your monitor.  That's all a monitor does, it let's us look at the information provided by our computer.  The building itself is the outside shell of your computer (No dents or scratches when you bought it).  The big carpeted area inside is the "Hard Drive", because a hard drive is where information sits when it isn't being used.  The shelves in the library are called "Folders" on your computer because folders are where we normally store information.  Most of them are empty because when your computer is brand new, that huge new hard drive of yours is almost empty (except for software installed at the factory).  The little bit of information that is available in this brand new library is stored in books, or as we call pieces of information on a computer, files.

Library = Computer

Carpet  = Hard Drive

Shelves = Folders

Books = Files

     Now I want you to stop and think about something.  The person who designed this library was an engineer.  They knew exactly what information the new library needed.  They installed only those books that the library users would really need.  They were neat and organized and put all the information in one small area of the library, all of it in order by subject.  This was designed as the perfect library.  Anyone, from anywhere, could come in and quickly and easily find what they needed and there is plenty of room for new books when they arrive.

HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO YOUR COMPUTER

    When a design engineer builds a computer they try to install the necessary equipment and software to make your run perfectly.  The software is installed in files and folders on your hard drive and all the information is stored at the beginning of your hard drive "neatly and efficiently" by subject.  The processor can quickly and easily find all the information and there is a huge empty area on the disk for you to add new information.

    That's the perfect library/computer.  But life isn't perfect and thanks to the big software companies (Microsoft / AOL, etc) neither is your computer.  These big software companies purchase space on the hard drive of your new computer from the manufacturer.  They want to include sample software (try it for free now and buy the real version later or access to their websites, etc.) hoping to make a profit off of you. So the manufacturer loads in as much junk software as the big software companies are willing to pay for onto "your" new computer.  Some of this software you may use, but most of it is junk cluttering up the hard drive (I'll show you how to remove it later).

BACK TO THE LIBRARY

     Let's go back to the library.  You are standing inside this beautiful (except for the ugly carpet) new library.  It has only the best books.  Everything is neat and organized.  There's plenty of space for new books.  Life is good!  Until the BSC (BIG SOFTWARE COMPANIES) show up in their black helicopters.  They fill up another dozen shelves with magazines (Get Yahoo!), books (AOL is for Dummies), and advertisements for just about every type of scam (Oops. I meant new type of software) in the world. The library is still nice, but now it's gonna take you a little longer to find what you need because you have to dig thru all the junk.

BETTY

    You realize the library must be getting ready to open for the first time when Betty walks in.  Betty is the new librarian.  In just minutes of watching her you realize that she is one of the fastest, most organized and efficient people you have ever seen.  As she walks in the door she flips the light switches on (START), picks up one or two pieces of loose material sitting on the floor (Garbage) and throws them in the trash can (Recycle Bin), then she straightens up the pieces of paper on the big librarians counter (RAM) at the center of the library.  After a quick frown in the direction of all the garbage brought in by the Big Software Companies she sits down.  She was such a whirlwind of energy before and now she is just sitting there doing nothing.  You can't believe it.  She doesn't move, she doesn't blink.  She just sits there at idle.

    How does this relate to you?  Betty is the (CPU) central processing unit of your computer, processor for short.  She gets put into motion getting your ready and organized when you hit the start key.  The garbage was files that were no longer needed, so your computer moved them to the recycle bin (or other temporary storage area - more on this later).  RAM (Random access memory) is a temporary storage area on your where all the actual work is done.  The difference between a hard drive and RAM is that information on the hard drive is stored permanently (unless erased) and just sits there doing nothing, while information in RAM is only stored temporarily (if the computer is turned off the information disappears) and is moved back and forth as needed by the processor.  Think of it as... a hard drive is where books are stored... and RAM is where books are read.

BETTY STARTS TO WORK

    You have watched Betty sit there idly staring into space when a customer comes in.  The customer asks for some information, Betty looks on a chart (Root Index) to see where that information is stored (which Folder), then she walks back to the counter (Ram - work area), flips thru the pages of the book (file) and gives the customer the answer (Sorry, there's still only $2 in your bank account).

    Another customer comes in and donates several new books to the library.  "If" everything is going to stay in 'perfect' order they should go into the middle of the last row of books.  But Betty doesn't want to move half the books just to put these in the middle of the row, so instead Betty places them as the very last books on the row (The first empty spot on the shelves) and then makes a note on her chart (Root Index) that tells her where the new books are located.

     For a week you watch Betty working.  Customers come in looking for books, others are dropping books off.  You notice that the library is slowly becoming less perfect.  First, the books are becoming less and less in order on the shelves, because Betty doesn't want to keep moving them back and forth.  Big stacks of new books are always getting added to the first available empty space on the shelves.  A few here, a few there.  There is no order to how they are placed on the shelf. Instead, Betty keeps a chart so she can find all the books.  It's not a problem at first, but you can see that after a while that the books that used to be in perfect order by subject are becoming more and more scrambled.  Yes, Betty can still find the books using her chart, but she has going to spend more and more time going back and forth to collect them because they are no longer grouped together by subject.  The other problem you start to notice is that Betty is a bit of slob.  She tends to leave some of the books lying on the front counter (Ram).  Every morning when she "starts" work everything is neat and organized, but as the day goes on her front counter where she does her work gets more and more cluttered.  Sometimes by the end of the day there are so many books stacked all over the counter you can see that Betty is getting slower and slower.  And every day the stack of books sitting on Betty's desk seems to get bigger.

    After watching "The Betty Show" for several months you realize she seems to be aging prematurely.  Everyday her library is less and less organized and the stacks of books on her desk seem to get bigger and bigger.  Eventually Betty is moving at the speed of a turtle, and worse yet, she seems to be making mistakes.  You begin to worry that one day Betty will simply fall down (crash) and that they might have to close the library.

HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO YOUR COMPUTER

    Your computer came neat and organized from the factory.  All the files were in order.  But over time your computer begins to store information in a rather messy fashion.  Yes, you can find all its files using what it calls the ROOT INDEX (big list of files on your computers hard drive), but as the files get spread farther and farther apart, completely out of any organized sequence (we call this checker boarding) it takes your more and more time to load programs and gather files. (I'll show you how to fix this problem later with Disk Defragmenter.) To top it off, RAM is a temporary storage area where files are collected as they are being used.  When a file is done being used in RAM, some parts are deleted or stored on the hard drive, but other pieces are left sitting (taking up space) in your random access memory.  Basically this means your computer has less RAM space available to work with.

TEMPORARY FILES

    Today, I'm going to tell you something about Betty that you probably are not going to like.  Betty is lazy.  She ends up with all kinds of scrap files.  Little pieces of paper that she uses to write notes, to remember things.  She stores pictures of this and that and then just throws them in a stack.  All the old faxes, all the letters that were written, all kinds of sticky notes, etc.  She's been hiding them where no one could see.  She must have about a dozen of these little stacks all over the place.  And things are really starting to stack up.  What's worse is Betty has a cookie addiction.  She's on a diet so she can't eat them.  The guys from Big Software Companies love to send cookies to Betty.  They know she's on a diet, but they also know she's addicted to cookies so they know she won't throw them away.  It's their private joke.  They send her cookies knowing that she won't eat them, that the cookies will just stack up all over the place until the library comes apart at the seams.  In fact, some of the BSC guys have started putting listening devices in the cookies.  What better way to spy on Betty than to hide a microphone in her cookies?  Unfortunately all these sticky notes, pieces of scrap paper and cookies have stacked up so much that she can't move back and forth. There is no more room for books.  Betty eventually gets lost in the mounds of refuse and the library closes.

WHAT THIS MEANS TO YOU

    Every time you visit a web page your computer creates a 'temporary' copy of the page on the computers hard drive.  When you look at a picture, a temporary copy of the picture is stored in a hidden file for later use.  Whenever you type a letter your computer creates a temporary copy and stores it for later use too.  When you visit websites, the guys at the BSC's download little programs on your computer called Cookies.  Some of these cookies are designed to help you.  Others are designed to spy on you.  But the fact is, computers are lazy.  They store junk files rather than throwing them away.  In fact, your computer can get so clogged up with junk that it will run slower and slower, start having errors, and then start crashing.

NOTE:  Many people wrongly assume that if they have plenty of space left on their hard drive they don't need to worry about junk files taking up space.  This isn't true.  Your computer sets aside certain places (folders) on your hard drive where it stores temporary files, junk files and cookies.  These storage spaces can get full, even if the hard drive has plenty of space left.  And when these storage places get full, your computer slows down and starts to have errors and eventually begins to crash. 

It's a severe design flaw that they did not make these storage spaces for junk files bigger, and it's you who's going to suffer if they get too full.  It's kind of like taking out the trash.  If you don't do it, eventually your trash can is going to explode and then you have a house full of garbage.

THE BAD NEWS

   I know it seems all I have given you in the last couple pages is bad news.  But it's bad news "you need to know and understand".  Your computer is like a giant trash can, and it's getting fuller and fuller every day.  Everybody at the big software companies, at websites, even those who email you are filling your computer with junk.  If you don't understand this and know what to do about it, eventually your computer will start to run slower, have errors and crash.

THE GOOD NEWS

I'm going to help you take the trash out.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR COMPUTER RUN BETTER

Note:  I highly recommend keeping a list of all changes you make on your computer, so if you do encounter problems you can go back and undo the changes to fix your computer.

  The following pages are information to make your computer run better.  We'll get rid of programs you don't need, clean up your RAM, organize your files, clean up your hard drive and get rid of all those uneaten cookies.

    First, I need you to know a few things.  I am sitting here at my home, not yours.  I am sitting in front of my computer, not yours.  I can't see your computer, I can't see your screen, I can't see what software is on your computer. I don't know if your computer is old or new, in fact; I don't even know what kind of computer you have. So, you will have to understand that I am trying to offer solutions based on what I can see on my computer (Windows ME and sometimes windows 98) and what I have seen on other peoples computers.  I am going to offer 'generic solutions' that I think will work on most computers. That means, yes there may be an easier way to do it on your computer, but I have chosen to use this particular method for my own reasons.  It also means that what I am suggesting "may not work on your computer"

   This tutorial is based on IBM type computers running Windows.  This tutorial will not work on a Mac.  This may make your computer run faster.  This tutorial, in some instances ,could cause a problem I have not foreseen on your computer.  Also, I am prone to typo's and errors of judgment.   There is also the possibility that you may make a mistake or make an error in following my instructions so; By reading the material below you are agreeing not to hold me responsible for problems that may occur on your computer.

REMOVING JUNK PROGRAMS

     As we discussed earlier, the Big Software Companies pay to have their programs added to your computer before it even arrives at the store.  Many of these are junk and removing them will help free up space on your computer.  In addition, like everyone I know, you have probably downloaded a few (dozen) programs only to find you don't like them.  These are taking up space on your computer too.  Removing these programs not only frees up space on your hard drive, but can also free up space in your RAM.

CREATING A LIST OF RUNNING PROGRAMS

    Please save or print this letter before doing the following (so that you don't lose this letter).

     The first step to cleaning up your computer is finding out what is running on it.  Some programs you need and others you don't.  By finding out which one's you don't need you can remove them and make your computer run better.

1.   Turn your computer off                     <---This clears your RAM

2.   Leave it off for at least 45 seconds    <-- Cleans out some hidden files

3.  Turn your computer back on

4.  CTRL - ALT - DELETE                    <--Click all three buttons at the same time

A list of the programs currently running in "RAM" appears.

Write this list of programs down on a sheet of paper. What you have now is a list of programs that 'automatically' start when your computer turns on.  Some of these programs need to be running for your computer to operate properly (Systray, Explorer, and possibly one or two others).  If your Anti-virus program is programmed to be on all the time it will be on this list (most of the time you will be able to recognize the file name because it is similar to the name of the program). Others may be programs that you want to keep, but that don't need to be running all the time (For instance 'RealPlay" is a video player, but if you are not watching videos it doesn't need to be turned on all the time). I'll show you how to keep these programs, but have them not running 'all the time' later in the tutorial.  And finally, you will probably find junk programs running.  I'll show you how to remove them.

DECIDING WHAT TO KEEP AND WHAT TO DELETE

    I want you to take the list of programs that are running on your computer and set it down in front of you.  Next to each program on your list I want you to mark one of the five choices and what you want to do with it.

 

1.  System File       Don't touch these programs, you need them (Systray, Explorer)

2.  Anti-virus          Don't touch these programs.

3.  Turn Off            Programs that you want to keep, but that you don't use "all-the-time"

4.  Remove             These are programs that you are absolutely sure you don't need.

5.  Don't Know       These are programs that you aren't sure what they are (yet).

TESTING TO SEE IF YOU NEED IT OR NOT

You can temporarily shut down programs on this list to see if you need them to run your computer.  If you shut them down, and your computer continues to operate with no problems (most problems may show up immediately but a few may take longer to appear) then you may be safe to remove these programs from your computer or turn these programs off in your start up directory (more later).

 

Temporarily shutting down these programs will not hurt your computer.  If any problems occur simply restart your computer and all the programs will automatically load again.

 

  1. RESTART YOUR COMPUTER

  2. CTRL - ALT - DELETE        

  3. A list of programs currently running in RAM appears

  4. Use the Up and Down Arrows to highlight a program you want to turn off

  5. END TASK   <-- Clicking this will cause the program to shut down (takes 20 seconds)

 

If you turned off the program and encounter no problems then you can 'probably' remove this program without encountering this problem.

FREE UP RAM - IMMEDIATELY

The steps you just did (see above) are a quick and easy way to free up RAM if your computer is starting to slow up or freeze.  Too many programs running at the same time is the primary reason for crashes.  By hitting CTRL-ALT-DELETE and then temporarily shutting down some programs you can free up some RAM which should make your start running faster.

REMOVE JUNK PROGRAMS FIRST

Before I do any other kind of maintenance to my computer I always begin by removing all the junk and unwanted programs on it.  It's like getting rid of the big problems before trying to fix the small ones.  I also recommend removing "pre-installed software" that you don't need at the same time. .(see below)

REMOVE COMPONENTS OF WINDOWS SETUP

Windows Set Up is basically a tons of files and programs that the factory (or you) can choose to install or not install on your computer.  Some of this stuff you may want to keep (such as your ability to use the Internet) but by removing some of the other stuff (For Example MultiLanguage Support) you can free up a huge amount of space.

 

To remove unwanted components of Windows Set Up (Use your mouse to click on the following)

 

1.      START       

2.      SETTINGS

3.      CONTROL PANEL

4.      ADD/REMOVE PROGRAMS

5.      A list appears

6.      WINDOWS COMPONENTS      <-- This is a tab at the top of the list that appears

7.      A list of program types (folders) now displays.  You can see what is inside these folders and how much disk space they take up by clicking on them one time with your left mouse key.

8.      To add Windows Components (Place a check mark in the box)

9.      To remove Windows Components (remove the check mark beside them)

 

Be careful what you remove.  You might need that program some time.  I suggest making a list of any changes that you make on your computer.  You can reinstall any of Windows Components at any time by following the steps above and placing a check mark next to the component you want to re-add.

REMOVING JUNK PROGRAMS

Junk programs are very easy to remove and free up a lot of disk space.  Just be very careful to delete only programs that you do not need.  If you don't know what a program is LEAVE IT ALONE!  Go down the list of programs one at a time and ask yourself do I need this program (keep it), I don't want it (get rid of it) or I don't know what it is --- leave it alone just to be safe (better safe than sorry when it comes to computers).

 

1.      START      

2.      SETTINGS

3.      CONTROL PANEL

4.      ADD/REMOVE PROGRAMS

5.      A list appears

6.      This is a list of 'most' of the programs that are installed on your computer

7.      HIGHLIGHT the program you want to remove  (use your left mouse button)

8.      OK               <--- Clicking this button will begin the removal process

 

NOTE:  I highly recommend never deleting a file or a program unless you know what it is.  During the removal process Windows is going to have messages such as, "This file does not appear to be in use by any program, however removing it could cause some programs not to operate properly".  Then it says keep the file or delete the file.  LEAVE THE FILE ON THE COMPUTER!  Never remove anything unless you know what it is.  This is a small scrap of information, very small.  Play it safe.  LEAVE IT ALONE!

REMOVING JUNK FILES AND COOKIES

  1. START

  2. PROGRAMS

  3. SYSTEM TOOLS  (On some systems you may need to click ACCESSORIES first)

  4. DISK CLEAN UP

  5. OK                        

  6. Put check marks in ALL the boxes (who wants to keep junk files)

  7. OK                          <-- Deletes Millions of pieces of junk

 

NOTE:  Try following steps 1 through 5 above and then select MORE OPTIONS.  You find (on at least some versions of Windows) that you can remove junk files and windows components (just like we did above) here quickly and easily.

SCAN DISK

In the steps above you removed a bunch of programs that don't work, junks files, etc.  So now your computer should be junk free.  However, there is still a chance you could be getting errors from 'lost files', etc.  It's common for a cluttered computer to occasionally lose a file or two.  No big deal.  Scan disk is good at finding lost files (making sure their physical location on the hard drive matches where the ROOT DIRECTORY says they should be) and putting them where they belong.

 

Close other programs (sorry, AOL can wait) before starting scan disk

 

  1. START

  2. PROGRAMS

  3. SYSTEM TOOLS (On some computers you may need to click ACCESSORIES first)

  4. SCAN DISK

  5. Select Standard

  6. OK                         <-- This takes a little time

DISK DEFRAGMENTER

Okay, your disk is now free of all junk files and programs.  You just scanned your hard drive and made sure all the files are located where they are supposed to be.  What's next?

 

Remember in the beginning of this tutorial how I told you about the new library where all the books were stored neatly and in sequence in just one small area of the library and how the rest of the library was pretty much empty? I said that anyone could walk in there and quickly find anything? Yes, I'm sure you remember.  Then you should also remember what I said about Betty (the processor) being a real slob.  How she put the books in the first available space (rather than in order).  This means she was taking some old books out (Leaving an empty hole) and then later putting new books wherever she found an empty space.  It all seemed okay because "Betty was writing it all down".  That's okay in theory, but can you imagine what Betty's chart looks like? It's gotta be huge!  And then if you need to go find the books it could take you forever because they are scattered all over the library.  Sound like a nightmare trying to read this long list and then running back and forth trying to find all the books?  Think you might start to get tired and run slower and slower if you had to do it? Well, would Betty?

 

What this means to you is that your files are no longer in a nice neat sequence on your hard drive.  Instead your ROOT DIRECTORY (List of all your files and where they are stored) has become huge (it takes the processor longer to read the list) and that your computer is going to take longer to find all the files it needs to run a program.  It also means more chances for errors or for the system to crash.  What can you do about it?

 

Disk Defragmenters is a program that goes through and organizes all your files.  It puts them in order, nice and neat. Just like when the was new!

 

Close down all other programs before running Disk Defragmenter

 

  1. START

  2. PROGRAMS

  3. SYSTEM TOOLS (On some computers you may need to click Accessories first)

  4. DISK DEFRAGMENTOR

  5. OK

  6. SHOW DETAILS   <--Click this and you will see just how messy your hard drive really is and why I compared it to books being scattered around a library.

 

NOTE: Disk Defragmenter can take anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours.  Do not run any other programs while it is running. Take some time off, go outside, enjoy the sun.

YOUR COMPUTER IS CLEAN

Your computer should now be a lean mean computing machine.  It should run faster, have less errors and fewer crashes.  And perhaps just as importantly you now feel like a expert.  Now you can proudly feel like you are one of the few people in the world that honestly understands how a computer works.  Congratulations, you have just been promoted to the honorable title of geek.

 

Great Bigg Teddy Bear Huggs. BaddTeddy

 

P.S.  I spent a lot of time researching and writing this tutorial and many others so that you can avoid some of the hassles of ownership and have some fun. I do this because I enjoy helping people like you change your world.  Now I'd like to ask one small favor from you.  We are running a campaign that could help the poor, disabled, senior citizens and others by lowering the price of prescription medications in the United States.  I would greatly appreciate it if you would click the link below and email our Senators a letter saying, " I am an American for Fair Drug Pricing".


Thank You..  BaddTeddy

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