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Computer Basics


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#1 georgew87

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 05:03 PM

Is there still a lot of people today struggling with the most basic tasks on a computer e.g. copy and paste, renaming a folder, changing desktop backgrounds and so on.  

 

What is the most basic task on a pc someone asked you to help them with?



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#2 Queen-Evie

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 06:36 PM

Yes, there are people who still struggle with the most basic tasks. Many of them are new computer users and have no clue how to do something.

Years ago, when we got our first computer-a used Windows 98 laptop we bought from a friend in late November 2001-I had to ask my tech savvy son 2 questions
1) How do I open it?
and after he showed me how to open it
2) How do I turn it on?

Those 2 questions were enough for him to give me a "mom, you are so ignorant" look.

After that it was off to the races as I spent time learning everything I could about the computer, Windows and the internet. I picked it up quickly. It helped that a good search engine was my best friend back then. I also called my son a few times asking him how to do something. He would show up at my house, sit down in the chair, and go through it so fast I had no idea what he was doing. All I wanted was for him to tell me what to do so I could do it. Finally I had to tell him that as he was growing up and learning new things I did not push him out of the way when he needed my help.

My husband, not so much on the quick learning. For some reason he had trouble with saving Word and text documents. He asked me how to do it. I told him, he tried and failed. After a while I got tired of listening to him fuss when something did not get saved.

One day I walked over to him as he was struggling to save a document, told him once again step-by-step what to do, then looked straight at him and said "now that you have done that, MAKE LIKE JESUS AND SAVE".

I had to walk him through it a few more times after that but he eventually got the hang of it.

He also at one point asked me how to copy/paste. That lesson also took a few times before he "got it".

My husband will still ask me to help him when he has computer problems.

On the flip side he can help anyone if it involves punch cards as that is what was used when he was in Computer Programming in college.

After my father passed away I took my mom computer shopping. She had always wanted a computer. Not the kind she used as an accountant, she wanted INTERNET and EMAIL. I helped her pick one out, bought her a monitor and printer, hooked everything up, got the computer set up and arranged for internet service. We went to the cable office, got the modem, I hooked it up and there was  INTERNET.

I really did try to teach her about her new computer. One day she called and needed help. She wanted to know which button to push on the mouse. Trying to talk her through it over the phone wasn't working. I went to her house.

 

And had a brilliant  light-bulb.png  idea.

My mom was a big fan of DUCT TAPE. She was the DUCT TAPE QUEEN. Growing up I learned how wonderful and useful DUCT TAPE is. So I grabbed the DUCT TAPE, tore off a small piece, taped it to the mouse LEFT CLICK button.

"Mother, click the DUCT TAPE !!!".  It worked like a charm.

 

I was tempted to put a small piece of DUCT TAPE on the browser icon and telling her to click the spot where the DUCT TAPE was.

Unfortunately, she never really mastered the computer.  Had it not been for me or her grandchildren using it when at her house it would have sat unused.

Oh dear, you asked a simple question and I gave a speech.


Edited by Queen-Evie, 25 September 2014 - 07:01 PM.


#3 mjd420nova

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 06:51 PM

With a service practice ongoing, the number might astound. ID10Ts abound.  One comes to mind where an individual had an Epson, on of the first Intel 80286 machines that could run up to 12 MHZ  and could support a 40 MB hard drive.  Complaint was it wouldn't turn on.  On-site, it worked for me and all appeared well.  I even shut it off and back on.  Same call the next day, this time I waited and asked the user to turn it on.  I wouldn't work, even pushing it  and holding it.  I tried it and it worked???  I let it finish booting and then shut it down.  The user tried and no luck.  These units had a dead panel switch, only low voltage to the P/S, not 110 volts like some models.  The replacement P/S has the switch connected so I just replaced the switch.  Success.  The user was delighted and I was puzzled.  I learned electronics when vacuum tubes were reaching their zenith.  Business machines were comptometers, both punching the cards and card sorters.  I played with a CPU that had four bits processing and had single board 6502 minicomputer with 64K memory.  These days it takes at least 10 GB to load the OS. 



#4 georgew87

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 06:59 PM

Very interesting, thanks for the reply QueenEvie  and the amount of info in your message, i appreciate it.    I guess it is easy to assume that everybody knows the most basic tasks, but I guess everyone has to learn at some point.  

 
How did you learn all of the basics? By trial and error, books, videos, or friends showing you what to do?


#5 georgew87

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 07:02 PM

Thanks mjd420nova for the reply, I find computer history interesting. I have heard about punchcards People were very patient in those days and computers were a lot slower and its surprising that MHz was more than enough to do what you need to and 40MB harddrive!!!, wow.  
 
We have certainly come a long way.    
 
Speaking of old technology,  Do you guys think it was easier to learn how to use a computer 20 years ago, or has technology made it easier for people to learn how to use it?


#6 Queen-Evie

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 07:37 PM

I edited my post above to add my experience with my mother.

 

For me, mostly trial and error. I had the time to sit down for a couple of hours every day and explore the computer.

 

My method was simple. I saw something, wondered what it was, clicked on it to find out.

 

The first 3 months we had the laptop I spent more time learning about it than I did on the internet. What time I did spend on the internet was using the search engine to find out how to do things and how things worked.

 

I did have someone to help me. We spent a lot of time on an instant messenger with him explaining how to do things. Later on lots of HELP phone calls to him.

 

What's funny to me now is that back then I was terrified to download and install anything. I was afraid I'd blow up the laptop. One day I bit the bullet, downloaded and installed something and NOTHING HAPPENED TO THE LAPTOP. "Wow, that was easy and I can do this".

 

I loved my IBM Thinkpad. But alas, one evening my husband saw something funny on the screen, laughed and spit out the beer in his mouth all over the thing.

It was wrecked and while it could have been repaired, we decided the money would go toward a new custom built  not a Dell, dude desktop with XP PRO. We had been wanting a desktop. No off the shelf system for us, we didn't want all the bloatware that comes on those things.

 

The desktop was another learning curve. With it I learned how to reinstall Windows and replace hard drives, the CMOS battery and CD drives. When the graphics and sound cards died, I replaced them myself. I opened up the case on a regular basis and cleaned out the innards.  All things that I was scared to do but did anyway since I didn't want to pay someone else to do it.

 

Later on, after my husband got his own computer, I installed a wireless network card in it.

 

Once I did it, I had a feeling of accomplishment. I made sure my husband knew what I had done and how much money we saved because I did it myself.

 

OK, so the first time I had to replace a hard drive (which was under warranty so I got a new one at no cost) I opened up the side of the case and wondered how do I get the old one out and the new one in. My daughter told me I needed to also open the OTHER side of the case. Bless her heart, she had learned how to take one apart and put it back together and have it actually still work in her high school computer class. After the install of the new drive, I installed XP, which was my first XP install experience.

 

I was so stoked that I installed the new hard drive  I went out a bought another one and installed it as a slave drive for storage. At the time 3 people were using the computer and the extra storage came in handy.

 

What I am doing now is paying it forward. Helping others just like I was helped when I first started out.

 

I encourage people to do as I did when they are new to computers. Take your time, learn all you can about it. Ask questions. If someone thinks you are stupid because you don't know something find someone else who WILL take the time to teach and help you learn.  I let them know that that the learning process is on-going, you will never know it all.

 

I tell them they CAN fix some things themselves, DIY is really not that hard. If I can do it, anyone can.


Edited by Queen-Evie, 25 September 2014 - 07:45 PM.


#7 georgew87

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 07:58 PM

Thanks Queen for sharing.   Very interesting.  It is sad if people don't use their new computer because they don't know how to.  I also believe anyone can learn and know how to do things themselves.  It is also a lot easier to learn if the person is not scared to explore and try to do things on the computer, even if they are unsure of how to do it.   I don't mind people asking me over and over how to do things because I know that if they do things over and over again, they will eventually remember how to do it.



#8 Queen-Evie

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 08:09 PM

Speaking of old technology,  Do you guys think it was easier to learn how to use a computer 20 years ago, or has technology made it easier for people to learn how to use it?


I think the answer to your question would be "it depends on who is doing the learning now".

For those who were in on it since the early days of computers it may be easy for some today and not so easy for others. If the motivation is there, they will learn it.

Those of us who don't have the experience from that long ago have nothing to compare between "then" and "now".

Technology is constantly changing. Some people don't want to change with the times. They want to stick with what they know, what's comfortable for them.

Others dive into new technology and thrive on it.

Today we have tablets, smart phones, refrigerators with technology built in, iPods, whole house technology and myriad other tech products.

I think learning might easier now, whatever the device is.

There are more people to help teach. It could here at Bleeping Computer or other help sites. Low cost or free classes in your community-if you are a senior citizen there may be classes just for you. Your neighbor or tech savvy relative. Tutorials and how-to's online. You Tube videos.

For me, high technology 20 years ago was cordless phones, cassette tapes and VCR's and eventually the Walkman cd player my son won from a Sprite cap. When my cable company started offering DVR's I wanted one. I got it and the learning curve was easy for me. It took my husband a while to master the DVR. For a long time he would ask me how to use the cordless phone when he wanted to make a phone call. Then he would ask me what button to push to end the call.

Can you see a theme with my husband?

Edited by Queen-Evie, 25 September 2014 - 08:18 PM.


#9 mjd420nova

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Posted 26 September 2014 - 10:31 AM

I saw the advance of the digital devices as a boon to the hands on techs who got tired of getting shocked by the high voltages needed for the vacuum tubes.  Not much inside a computer that can hurt you but plenty you can destroy just by touching.  Many upper level service people today don't even know how to use a multimeter or interpret the readings.  Swapping parts can be done by most anyone, but knowing where to start and being able to determine where the boundary between hardware and software failures.  I know of NO program that can cause a hardware failure.   The advance of display elements has made the shrinking devices make a turn-around with larger displays.  Is it a tablet or a phone??  Or both??   Devices have become disposable, at least if dropped or submerged.  I have no need for an electronic leash, those who need to contact me, know how, otherwise I'm incomunicato.



#10 Ivy74

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Posted 26 September 2014 - 01:31 PM

Is there still a lot of people today struggling with the most basic tasks on a computer e.g. copy and paste, renaming a folder, changing desktop backgrounds and so on.  

 

What is the most basic task on a pc someone asked you to help them with?

My sister. When she was going to Nursing School I watched her type these paragraphs from sites/emails/anything on the PC. I was like just copy and paste. I explained it time and time again and she could not grasp the concept. I found what I can best describe as "kindergarden" instructions. I said to her after handing her a print-out of it: if you can't follow this I can't help you. 

 

I know not all people are computer savvy but seriously.

 

Oh and this is sort of relevant: I was providing technical support to this (I believe it was a construction worker) over the phone. After giving me has password I asked exactly in these word "Upper-case or Lower-case" his reply and I am NOT joking was "I do not understand those computer terms". I paused, sighed, then said "Big Letters or small letters". He made noise and said "Small Letters". 

:smash:


***Note***

My job has blocked Europe by the firewall which means I can't access this site from the office anymore. So I will barely be here if at all. In case you cared.  :smash:


#11 georgew87

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Posted 26 September 2014 - 06:50 PM

Very Interesting Ivy74.  I feel sorry for your sister not knowing about copy and paste.  It shows how many simple things we know about computers we take for granted



#12 rp88

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Posted 27 September 2014 - 01:01 PM

TDo you guys think it was easier to learn how to use a computer 20 years ago, or has technology made it easier for people to learn how to use it?

;

It is certainly easier nowadays, early computers required a lot of knowledge(or big reference books) to use command line interfaces, then you get the graphical user interface which means that anyone can use a program after a few hours explanation, with the latest devices many of the functions are self explanatory, there is almost no thinking that is required of a user whilst in the main interfaces of some tablet type machines.

There are still people who struggle with the most simple tasks, copying and pasting, knowing what a URL is, installing a safer browser than IE... Mainly because they are scared that any small tweak can cause significant problems for a computer, whilst usually to do damaging things you have to go poking into the deeper settings. Members of my extended family are like that, I have to maintain their machines when i visit them. But with recent interfaces all you really need to know is this,

http://xkcd.com/627/

plus a little rule about never trusting advertisers and another about one or two places on the system never to mess with.

Edited by rp88, 27 September 2014 - 01:02 PM.

Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

#13 ElfBane

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Posted 28 September 2014 - 09:26 AM

All of the above posts I sympathize with, now my 2 cents.

 

I don't mind ignorance, what I do mind is refusal to learn. And when confronted with said refusal, I an tempted (and sometimes actually do it) to stop teaching them.

 

As the saying goes, I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you.



#14 Enriqe

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Posted 28 September 2014 - 12:43 PM

I think since usability testing and actual interface design became more widely used, these devices and computers have become easier to learn. Some things we take for granted just simply don't make sense to other people. They aren't any less intelligent nor are they id1ot's, their priorities just don't involve a computer most of the time. 

My mother asked me to look at her Mac-Book not to long ago. She installed an update a few months earlier and since then, according to her, nothing worked right namely safari. When I got to her home luckily I just happened to look up and notice the date and time was wrong on her screen. Some folks aren't going to know that will screw some stuff up when installing or updating. 

 

On a side note ... if a tree limb was to knock a hole in your roof, I'm willing to bet the construction worker won't judge you as stupid because you couldn't fathom why the ceiling in the kitchen is falling in from water damage when the hole in the roof is located above the living room. 



#15 georgew87

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Posted 28 September 2014 - 01:04 PM

All of the above posts I sympathize with, now my 2 cents.

 

I don't mind ignorance, what I do mind is refusal to learn. And when confronted with said refusal, I an tempted (and sometimes actually do it) to stop teaching them.

 

As the saying goes, I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you.

In some way I agree with you ElfBane.  I on the other hand don't mind teaching people things over and over again.  For some people it just takes longer to learn than other's.  






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