Sunday, February 10, 2008

Say hi to your computer - Part I - the hardware

Now that I've moved to a new home, maybe I should just start again from the basics, except, this time, really the basics.

I want this site to be a site when you can send your not-so-tech savvy parents/grandparents, etc., and understand every blog I post. That's why I made the font even slightly bigger than your usual blog site.

Anyways, let's answer this question - what exactly is a computer?

A computer when it was first invented, could not be fit on your desk. Take a look at the ENIAC for a history lesson.

It had only a fraction of power of even your worst computer today and they were huge!

Can you imagine this thing in your house?

It's 27 tons, and it was $500,000. (Thanks Wikipedia for the info).

But going back to the present, a computer can be broken down into software and hardware.

Today, we're going to cover just hardware.

The main hardware pieces of a computer are (geeks, please don't get too nit-picky, this site is not for you!):
  1. Motherboard (why not Fatherboard? I dunno)
  2. Processor
  3. Hard Drive
  4. RAM memory
  5. CD/DVD reader/writer

The motherboard is where all your parts come together. Maybe a mother is more apt to gather her children together than a father? In any case, eveything comes together here, either directly or via cable.

Your processor slides right into an area that the motherboard has for it. The processor does all the thinking - it's the brains of the computer. The 2 main processors in the market these days are made by Intel and AMD. Intel is more popular and a bit more expensive compared to the comparable processors by AMD. The latest trend these days are dual-core processors, where they are essentially like having two processors work on your computer - and of course, two brains are better than one, right?

The hard drive is like your desk's drawers. They hold all your files, even when your computer is off.

The RAM memory - often people get confused about hard drive and RAM memory. Both are memory after all. Well, your hard drive is like your desk's drawers, while your RAM is like your actual desk's workspace size. When your computer is working, it has to pull stuff out of your 'drawers' and put them on your 'desktop area' to work. So the bigger the RAM, the more your computer can multitask. These days, if you're using Windows XP, I recommend at least 1 gigabyte (GB) of RAM, while for Windows Vista, you're gonna be lagging along unless you have at least about 2 GBs.

The CD/DVD drive - many computers these days come with drives that can both read data from your CD or DVD and also write to them. This means that you can play music from your CDs or even play your movies. Most recent computers come with pre-installed software that play them. In Windows, you have your Windows Media Player. They also usually come with some software that help you write to a CD or DVD as well, by companies such as Nero or Roxio.

More often than not, you'll mostly be using your drive to install new software, such as the Microsoft Office that you perhaps just bought.

That's enough for today - hope it's enough to digest and remember for you.

If you're a geek, you're welcome to my blogs, but only to forward the site on to your relatives that keep asking you questions about computers and consider your their free, resident computer expert and tech support!

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