This is my first post to the website, so I have thoroughly read all of the guidelines and navigated it before posting. I believe this is the most appropriate forum to post my inquiry. If I still manage to violate some kind of more or otherwise do something terribly wrong, I apologize. I also apologize if this post is terribly long-winded, but I want to ensure that I am effectively communicating the appropriate context to my questions.
I was very interested in computers when I was young since my father was a computer professor. This was during the 90s, so Windows operating systems were all the rage and I became pretty intimately introduced to them. I felt very comfortable with these early machines (Windows 95 to XP) and feel like I accessed a little bit beyond basic literacy. However, I never really wound up learning anything about hardware or serious programming.
Fast-forward to around 2007. My father has since passed away and I literally abandoned using computers. This is not to say that I had hostility against technology or was afraid of it, but I had come to believe many of my contemporaries (including my father) had a dependency on computers and technology which penetrated beyond what they even knew. In my protest, I wound up going through the process of getting three bachelors degrees and completing all of my assignments on a Remington Typewriter (unless the assignment specifically required computer use). Ergo, I am quite proficient with all Microsoft Office programs and some designed for mathematics such as SPSS.
Now it's 2014 and I have to admit defeat. Even if there was complete globalization and a hypothetical single-world government tried to destroy the internet, they wouldn't be able to do it (although it does sound like an interesting plot for a science fiction novel). I mean, let's face it: Computers simply make things a lot easier, almost all applications for work are entirely online, it's easier to connect with people who have common interests online, and I now live in a society where I am simply doing myself a profound disservice by not extending my knowledge to electronics and computers. This being said, I have time, energy, and discipline that I can focus on learning all about computers. This is why I am here. My greater goal is to learn a lot of stuff about computers.
Now, I realize the goal of "trying to learn about computers" is like "trying to learn about maths" - it's a very ambiguous goal. The problem is that I have no real direction and I am not sure what I should be reading. Unfortunately, all my father's books are outdated. I therefore did the best that I could think of and got a book on Python entitled "Hello Python!" This is the book I am talking about ( http://www.amazon.com/Hello-Python-Anthony-S-Briggs/dp/1935182080 ) and I am under the impression that pdfs exist online for it. I think the amazon reviews are a little harsh, as I had made it the whole way through the book and thought it was quite charming. However, while I have successfully written programs and understood around 85% of what I read, I still don't feel like I have gained a whole lot of knowledge on programming with Python. I know there are free libraries to do so online, but even when I look at those I still feel like I am not approaching the discipline systematically and establishing a knowledge base that I can build off of.
I am therefore here asking for help and taking a different route. I think the most intelligent way to accomplish my long-term goal is to get a basic familiarity with hardware and then progress into learning about different operating systems in order to transition into programming. The ultimate "direction" would be to learn about networking and security (specifically privacy). I met an old friend whose husband sold me the computer I am currently writing from for $150. I think I should learn everything there is to know about this thing and do some basic operations on it. This is why I am asking for help.
The computer is a Compaq model Presario F700 (GR967UA#ABA) manufactured by Hewlett-Packard. Processor AMD Anthlon 64 X2 Dual-Core Processor TK-55 1.80 GHz. Memory (RAM) 2.00 GB. 32-bit Operating System.
I have very little idea what any of this means at this point, but I'm going to google each term and read all I can about it. I just fear that I'm going to access a webpage which will tell me things I have absolutely not context for understanding and literally spend hours learning terms which mean nothing to me. As far as software is concerned, when I access My Computer I see:
Local Disk C (83.6 GB) and Presario_RP D (8.11 GB)
It is dual booted with Windows Vista Home Premium and Ubuntu. Whenever I turn on the computer, I have around ten seconds to choose between one of several options which boots Linux or one that boots "Longhorn" (Vista). I do not have access to the username or password for the Linux Operating System and have no idea how to get rid of it or even see what is on it.
My Modest Goals:
- I want to understand all of the hardware on the computer, its capabilities, and have context of how it compares to other modern stuff.
- I want to totally wipe the computer and install all of the drivers on it so that it still works properly. I have done formats in the past on older computers but have always gotten tripped up when it came to installing drivers. Wireless connectivity, sound, or several other things wouldn't work properly.
- When I format the computer, I want to dual boot it with Windows Vista and another *nix operating system of my choosing (I'm not sure which one yet, I will have to compare them).
Overall I want to know the computer very intimately as a starting point so that I can progress onto further knowledge. I think this is a reasonable way to accomplish my greater long-term goal. My questions for this forum are as follows:
- Does this sound reasonable or am I going about it all wrong?
- What kinds of basic operations do you think I can do with this computer to help me reach my overall goal?
- What kinds of fun, reasonable upgrades do you think I could do to accomplish my overall goal? Can I buy and install something that will make it go faster, increase Wireless signal strength, allow me to fly drones into outer space, etc.
- Do you have any online references or textbooks that you think would be helpful to my mission?
I will conclude by again apologizing if this is not precise enough or if these are stupid questions. I just figured that the last time I tried to go it alone I feel like I wasted a lot of time accomplishing very little. Any other guidance, bright ideas, knowledge, or scoldings are welcomed.
Edited by Mathematical, 17 January 2014 - 02:09 PM.