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CGS 1000 - Intro to Computers and Tech

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the difference between Vista and Office 2007?
  2. What is the purpose of a flash drive and why do I need one?
  3. I am planning to by a new laptop, what type should I get?
  4. What’s the difference between a Windows PC and a Mac?
  5. What’s the difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web?
  6. Why do I need to have a spyware detection program on my computer if I already have antivirus software installed?
  7. What is malware?
  8. How do wireless cards/networks work?
  9. What can I do to protect from having my information stolen over the Internet?
  10. Why can’t I borrow a friend/relative’s copy of Office 2007 and install it on my computer?
  11. What should I consider if I choose to use P2P (peer-to-peer) software or websites to obtain copyrighted files?
  12. What is a cookie?
  13. How would I go about finding out about any new virus or worm threats that have recently occurred and if I have any of these things on my computer?
  14. If I wanted to find out what type of jobs are available in the area of computer security, where could I start looking to find job titles and descriptions.
  15. What is “disk defragmentation” and why is everyone telling me that I need to do it on a regular basis?
  16. I play lots of computer games. I’ve decided that I want to “be on the other side”, namely, I want to be the person who develops computer games. How do I find out about what’s going on with computer game design and development?
  17. What types of software do I need to get to try out to see if I like developing computer games or some of the new 3D movies, or some of the stuff in Web sites like Second Life?
  18. I want to see what independent individuals are doing with digital art, since I am thinking about taking classes in the Digital Media / Multimedia program. Where can I go just to see what people like me are doing with digital graphics design and artwork?
  19. What are “Windows Updates” and why do I need to keep my computer up to date with them?
  20. What are “Office Updates” and why do I need to put them on my computer?
  21. What kind of processor / CPU do I have on my home computer or laptop? What type of hard drive do I have? How much memory does my computer have? Do I have a CD, a DVD, a DVD writable on my computer? What kind of mouse do I have? Basically, is there a way to find out all about the types of hardware and peripheral devices that make up my computer or laptop?
  22. Can I record my voice using my computer?
  23. My friends all send me pictures of file type .jpg and every time I create a picture it comes out as a .bmp – what’s going on? What are these different graphics types and when do I use which?
  24. My friend says that I should throw away my keyboard and just talk to my computer and let it do all the typing, anyway, that’s what he says he does. How do I get my hands on one of the Star Trek type computers?
  25. I keep hearing that HCC has “Online Databases” available for me to use. What are these online databases, do I really want to use them and if so, how to I go about getting them?

FAQ Answers
  1. What is the difference between Vista and Office 2007?
    The difference between Vista and Office 2007 is that Vista is an operating system. Operating systems are system software used to control all of the operations between the computer hardware, software, and peripheral devices. The operating system allows the computer to function and use application software. Without the operating system, the Microsoft Office (application software) would not work. For more information visit http://blogs.msdn.com/officerocker/archive/2008/07/09/the-difference-between-vista-and-office.aspx
  2. What is the purpose of a flash drive and why do I need one?
    Flash drives, sometimes called thumb drives or USB drives are external storage devices. They come in different shapes and sizes and allow for different amounts of storage capacity (typically 1 GB to 32 GB). These devices allow you to save and storage gigabytes worth of data on a small portable device. Flash drives have replaced floppy disks. For the purposes of this course you need to have a flash drive to save and back up your files. Your flash drive will allow you to save files from one computer and use them on another as long as both computers have USB ports. For more information visit http://homeworktips.about.com/od/computertips/qt/flashdrive.htm
  3. I am planning to by a new laptop, what type should I get?
    Purchasing a computer is a very personally experience. Before you buy one it is a good idea to assess what you need the computer to do. Different computers are designed for a variety of purposes. Some are designed for business/work applications, while others are intended for multimedia and entertainment. Consider how you will use the computer and make your decisions from there. You can save a lot of money if you buy what you need and stay away from purchasing a computer with more “bells and whistles” than you will use. For more information visit http://compreviews.about.com/od/buyers/bb/NotebookPCs.htm
  4. What’s the difference between a Windows PC and a Mac?
    There are some significant differences between a Windows PC and a Mac. Typically the Windows PCs are more widely used in business and industry and cost less. However, Macs are often considered easier to learn and use. Macs also come with a lot of useful preinstalled software. The biggest difference is in the operating systems. PCs run some version of Windows, typically XP or Vista. Macs use the MacOS which is considered to be more reliable and robust, especially with security. Often the differences come down to personal preference and choice. For more information visit http://www.ofzenandcomputing.com/zanswers/126
  5. What’s the difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web?
    The Internet is the physical worldwide collection of networks that connects billions of computers and users. The World Wide Web is the collection of electronic documents that can be accessed using the Internet. For more information visit http://netforbeginners.about.com/cs/technoglossary/f/Faq1.htm
  6. Why do I need to have a spyware detection program on my computer if I already have antivirus software installed?
    Antivirus and spyware detection programs do different things. Not all antivirus protection programs include spyware protection. If your antivirus software does not have a spyware detection program included it is important to install a spyware detection program. You can find reliable free versions on the World Wide Web. For more information visit http://www.spyware.lt/antivirus-versus-antispyware.html
  7. What is malware?
    Malware are malicious or damaging programs designed and programmed to due harm to computer systems. Malware programs, also known as viruses, Trojan horses, and worms are created to intentional disrupt and damage computer systems. For more information visit http://arstechnica.com/articles/paedia/malware.ars
  8. How do wireless cards/networks work?
    Wireless cards use radio frequencies to transmit information through radio waves instead of using wires. Typically they operate on a frequency of 2.4 GHz and require a computer with a wireless adapter card or transmitter and a wireless access point. For more information visit http://www.webopedia.com/DidYouKnow/Computer_Science/2008/wireless_networks_explained.asp
  9. What can I do to protect from having my information stolen over the Internet?
    There are many precautions you can take to help minimize the risk of having your personal information stolen over the Internet. The first thing to do is practice safe Web surfing. Stay away from sites that request your personal information. This includes your name, address, date of birth, social security number, mother’s maiden name, and other forms of personally identifiable information. Second, be sure that if you have to enter this information that it is on a reliable and safe site. You can check to see if the https:// is in the web address. You should confirm this by also looking for an icon of a lock. These are indicators that the site is secure. However, it is important to note that sometimes hackers set up “spoofed” or fake websites to fool you into sharing this information. You might also receive a “phishing” email where an ID thief is trying to get you to provide your sensitive personal information. Any reputable financial institution with whom you have an account already has your information and should not ask you to resubmit it for “verification” purposes. Third, be sure that you have a firewall, antivirus, and spyware detection software installed on your computer. These three things can help minimize your risk. Fourth, do not post your address, date of birth, social security number, mother’s maiden name, and other forms of sensitive personally information on your MySpace or Facebook page. This information can be used to socially engine and uncover your passwords and other ID related information. For more information visit http://www.sec.gov/spotlight/katrina/protectyourselfonline.htm
  10. Why can’t I borrow a friend/relative’s copy of Office 2007 and install it on my computer?
    When you purchase software you are buying a license to use the software, you do not own it. Each software manufacturer has established a set of guidelines and policies on how the software can be used. Some applications can be installed on several computers that are owned by the same person. Others can only be installed on one computer at a time. It is important to know the specifications of the End-User License Agreement (EULA) so that you are not violating them. If you go outside the parameters of the EULA you risk breaking the agreement and violation of intellectual property rights. This can result in lawsuits and being severely fined and/or prosecuted. For more information visit http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/E/EULA.html
  11. What should I consider if I choose to use P2P (peer-to-peer) software or websites to obtain copyrighted files?
    Copyrighted material is the intellectual property of an individual. Obtaining it and using it without the consent of the owner is illegal. There are millions of copyrighted files, videos, movies, mp3 music, and software application posted to P2P websites all over the Internet. While it may seem harmless to download and use these files, it is critical to recognize that doing so is in violation of the creator’s intellectual property rights and is punishable by law. The Motion Picture Association of America and the Recoding Industry Association of America have been very aggressive in documenting cases of illegal P2P sharing of copyrighted material and taking legal action to protect intellectual property rights. In numerous instances these associations have sued the violators for hundreds of thousands of dollars. A women in Duluth Minnesota was fined $220,000 for posting 24 copyrighted songs to her shared folder on a P2P website. For more information visit http://www.myarticlearchive.com/articles/7/124.htm
  12. What is a cookie?
    Cookies are small text files used by Web browsers to store information for later use. Sometimes when you visit a Web site you are asked to input some information or you set certain preferences for the site. This information is often saved in a cookie and stored on your hard drive so that the next time you visit the Web site, the Web server can read the cookie information and personalize your page. There has been an increase in malicious cookies that track your Web surfing behavior. It is a good idea to delete your cookies at the end of the browser session. For more information visit http://www.webopedia.com/DidYouKnow/Internet/2007/all_about_cookies.asp
  13. How would I go about finding out about any new virus or worm threats that have recently occurred and if I have any of these things on my computer?
    Answer: First, you should have anti-virus software installed on your computer, preferably software that also has spyware capabilities. To find out about current threats, and what you computer would be doing if you had a virus or worm, you should navigate your browser to CERT, Carnegie Mellon Universities Computer Emergency Response Team. This organization keeps track of the most current malware activities on the Internet. Click the link below to get started: http://www.cert.org/advisories/
  14. If I wanted to find out what type of jobs are available in the area of computer security, where could I start looking to find job titles and descriptions.
    Answer: Several federal governmental agencies hire individuals in the computer security field. By navigating to each of their respective Web sites you will find a tremendous amount of information. First, you should start with agency’s “About Us” Web page. This information will give you an idea of the charter, or purpose of that specific agency. Next, you could click on the “Jobs” link, and just start looking around. Security work is investigative work. So, use your investigative skills while perusing the following Web sites and following leads:
  15. Federal Bureau of Investigation: http://www.fbi.gov/
    National Security Agency: http://www.nsa.gov/
    Department of Homeland Security: http://www.dhs.gov/
    Defense Intelligence Agency: http://www.dia.mil/
    United States Marshals Service: http://www.usmarshals.gov/
  16. What is “disk defragmentation” and why is everyone telling me that I need to do it on a regular basis?
    Answer: When you add and delete files and folders on your computer, you are adding and deleting space used on your computer’s hard drive. The hard drive is programmed to use all open space, thus maximizing the amount of data you can store on that hard drive. So, if you delete a medium size file, then add a large file, the hard drive will break you large file into several parts, placing each part in unused space. Your file (and eventually many of your files) will be fragmented – split up into pieces to fill open space. That’s just how hard drives work. After a while, if you have lots of fragmented files, your hard drive will spend lots of time chasing around finding each of the pieces when you ask to open a file. Your computer slows down. If left alone, your hard drive could lose indexes to your files, since the fragmentation gets so complex. That means, you lose your files – you don’t get them back. Defragging your hard drive on a regular basis causes the hard drive to put all the fragments of your files back together. How often should you defrag your hard drive – once a week if you add lots and delete lots of files, once a month if you do less adding and deleting. What does defragging do – it puts the pieces of your files back into one contiguous space. So, please do nothing on your computer while it is defragging, because, you are locking up files the defrag process needs to move around. How to you start defragging your hard drive – follow these steps: Start… Programs… Accessories… System Tools… Disk Defragmentation…
  17. I play lots of computer games. I’ve decided that I want to “be on the other side”, namely, I want to be the person who develops computer games. How do I find out about what’s going on with computer game design and development?
    Answer: Most people think or have heard that to be a game developer you need to be a high-end physics / mathematics computer programmer. While those types of jobs are necessary, consider this statement take a textbook about the computer gaming industry: A team of developing a large computer game will have about 160 individuals, and about three of those individuals will be high-end programmers. So, what are the other 157 individuals doing? Some of these individuals are “business” types, who know accounting, project planning, etc. Many of these individuals are creative types like storyboard developers, musicians, concept artists, texturers (what is that – someone who puts textures on anything you see in the game, like making grass, wood, skin, and cool tattoos). If you want to see all the types of jobs that exist, read the credits at the end of any 3D movie like Beowulf, or any of the three Shrek movies. Follow the following link to see the credits for Beowulf (you’ll need to select the link “Beowulf Movie Credits” after perusing this Web site: http://movies.about.com/od/beowulf/Beowulf_2007.htm
  18. What types of software do I need to get to try out to see if I like developing computer games or some of the new 3D movies, or some of the stuff in Web sites like Second Life?
    Answer: There are lots and lots of types of software that are used when developing a complex product like a video game of a full feature movie. Nonetheless, there is a good place to start. Two products will help you build your skills as a 3D artist (take a look at those movie credits from Beowulf and Shrek again, and look for “concept artist”). First, most 3D work starts in 2D, as a concept. Take a look an obtaining skills using Adobe Photoshop. Next, when you decide to go 3D, take a look at Autodesk Maya or Autodesk 3ds Max. The following Web links will navigate you to sites that discuss the features of these software packages, as well as show you some things people have done with them:
  19. Adobe Corporation: http://www.adobe.com
    Autodesk Corporation, Maya: http://www.autodesk.com/may
    Autodesk Corporation, 3ds Max: http://www.autodesk.com then select “Products”
  20. I want to see what independent individuals are doing with digital art, since I am thinking about taking classes in the Digital Media / Multimedia program. Where can I go just to see what people like me are doing with digital graphics design and artwork?
    Answer: There are two very popular Web sites that show digital work from people like you and me. Even the great artists, directors, composters and the like, were once unknown and had to get their work out there. So, navigate to the following two Web sites and follow an infinite number of links from there to see what people are doing (you may even see some work by some of your friends):
  21. Concept Art: http://www.conceptart.org
    Deviant Art: http://www.deviantart.com
  22. What are “Windows Updates” and why do I need to keep my computer up to date with them?
    Answer: Windows Updates are “patches” Microsoft adds to your operating system on your computer. These patches consist of things like, small upgrades to your computer (like giving Windows capabilities to work with new USB devices), correcting original bugs in the operating system (Windows contains millions and millions of lines of code, and sometimes modules need modifying), and finally, and most important to you, security fixes. Hackers sit around and consistently try to find ways to hack into the Windows operating system. And they do find ways. Once a hack is reported, Microsoft codes a correction to protect the operating system, then sends out this correction in the form of Windows updates. So, if you do not update your computer with Windows Updates, you are leaving your computer exposed to hackers who are looking for “low hanging fruit”, namely, computers like yours that are not protected. Is your computer up to date? Are you getting the correct Windows updates on a regular basis? Click the link below and follow the directions to find out: http://windowsupdate/microsoft.com/
  23. What are “Office Updates” and why do I need to put them on my computer?
    Answer: Office Updates pertain to your Microsoft Office Suite of software, MS Word, MS Excel, MS PowerPoint, MS Outlook, MS Access, etc. As Microsoft finds bugs in the software, or wants to make slight improvements to this suite of software, they encourage you to perform Office Updates. Your software will have the latest features available, and will have any security modifications needed to keep your software secure from hackers. To find out more about Office Updates, navigate your browser to the following Web site: http://office.microsoft.com/officeupdate/
  24. What kind of processor / CPU do I have on my home computer or laptop? What type of hard drive do I have? How much memory does my computer have? Do I have a CD, a DVD, a DVD writable on my computer? What kind of mouse do I have? Basically, is there a way to find out all about the types of hardware and peripheral devices that make up my computer or laptop?
    Answer: finding out about what types of hardware your computer has is known as inspecting your computer’s hardware configuration. And it’s easy in the Windows operating system. Click on the following links and begin inspecting your computer (and wait, it takes a few seconds for Windows to look around and come up with the information for you): Start… Programs… Accessories… System Tools… System Information…
  25. Can I record my voice using my computer?
    Answer: yes, and it’s easy. First, you’ll need either a microphone or a headset. Here’s the difference between the two: a microphone is cheap, you can pick one up at the computer store or the general department store (you know which one I mean – the one we all go to almost every day J) for about 5 – 10 dollars. A headset is different. It has either one or two ear phones as well as a microphone that extends from the headset around to position itself in front of your mouth. Gamers use them. They can be expensive through, costing anywhere from 39 – 169 dollars. So, if in doubt, start with a cheap microphone. Next, plug the microphone into the microphone plug on your sound card – it’s the pink plug. Finally, open Windows’ Sound Recorder: Start… Accessories… Entertainment… Sound Recorder. You’ll see a record button, a play button, and some more advanced stuff in the menu options. Record your voice, save your file and please, practice using that microphone so that we can hear you, but not hear all that popping when you say a “p-word” or hissing when you say an “s-word.” :)
  26. My friends all send me pictures of file type .jpg and every time I create a picture it comes out as a .bmp – what’s going on? What are these different graphics types and when do I use which?
    Answer: Many people have figured out that the Windows operating system accessory, Paint, is a good tool to use when cropping pictures and saving them to email to your friends. If you did not know this fact, well, Paint is a great tool. You get to it by clicking Start… Programs… Accessories… Paint… You can open your photos in paint and do lots of interesting digital manipulation. But, when you get ready to save a new file in Paint, it automatically saves your file as type, .bmp, namely, a Windows Bit-Mapped graphic. The .bmp file type was developed by Microsoft to be a high quality graphic, which is capable of storing lots of details and millions of different colors. The “price paid” for such quality is a large “footprint”, namely, a great big file – a file that is too big to email your friends. You can save your files in Paint with another file type, .jpg or JPEG file type. The .jpg file type was developed to give up a little quality for a much smaller footprint. That’s why .jpg files are used so extensively on the Internet Web pages, and also, why all your friends are sending your .jpg photos. So save your .bmp photo as a .jpg is easy. Open the file in Pant, then click in the menu on Save As… In the resulting pop-up dialog box in the drop down list box labeled, Save As Type, select the entry “JPEG(*.JPG, …). You might just want to use Windows Explorer to compare the file sizes of your .jpg file with your .bmp file. You’ll find that the .jpg file is, in general, three times smaller. If you are really interested in graphics file types, start performing a search in Google on “.bmp specification", then go on by clicking on the following link: http://www.w3.org/Graphics/JPEG/
  27. My friend says that I should throw away my keyboard and just talk to my computer and let it do all the typing, anyway, that’s what he says he does. How do I get my hands on one of the Star Trek type computers?
    Answer: Well, you could try going into mind-meld with your computer, but I’m not sure how to go about doing that, best save that one for Spock. What I do know is that you can install Voice Recognition Software on your computer. You then can speak to your computer with an editor open, or MS Word, or MS Outlook for emails, and speak to your computer while it types the words. The best advice you can get when getting started with Voice Recognition Software, is not to go cheap. Get the best hardware and software right away. Think about this situation: you have cheap software and hardware, but it works, sort of. Anyway, it is accurate 87% of the time. When you speak, about 87% of what you say is transcribed correctly. Now, ask yourself, how do you get the other 13% corrected. You see, the software did not misspell words, it made up new words. What’s wrong with these sentences: He red the book. He wore a read shirt. You need to proofread everything very closely, and will miss lots. To begin, get a good headset. The link below will start you looking in the right direction for a headset that is designed to be used with Voice Recognition software. Next, get the best software. Take a look at Dragon Naturally Speaking – preferred version NOT standard (it costs more – your time’s worth it in the long run). Follow these links to investigate this great time-saving technical solution and start talking to your computer:
  28. Software: http://www.nuance.com
    Hardware: http://www.google.com then search on “headset for dragon naturally speaking”
  29. I keep hearing that HCC Libraries have “Online Databases” available for me to use. What are these online databases, do I really want to use them and if so, how to I go about accessing them?
    1. Head for the Student Services building on your campus, and ask anyone there about getting your student card (at Ybor they are made in the library).
    2. You’ll get your picture taken and be given an HCC ID.
    3. Take this card to your campus library to be "activated." You will now be able to access the online databases.
    4. For more information visit: HCC ID card information

    Navigate your browser to http://www.linccweb.org (or from the HCC Libraries website) and follow the log in instructions carefully (input the library code on your card and PIN--last 4 digits of your social security number). Once logged in, you’ll find so much in the form of recognized online research databases (with articles you can quote in your term papers, because they contain recognized, reputable information), e-books that you can check out and read on your computer or laptop, current magazines in electronic form, and much, much more. Be forewarned, learning your way around will take some effort on your part, but it’s worth it. Feel free to contact your campus library for research help from a librarian:

    So, get registered, get that student card and navigate to: http://www.linccweb.org then begin by clicking on “Search a Specific Database.”


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