GA Russell

Computer Gurus: Computer Basics

31 posts in this topic

I have never taken a computer course, and I have never read a computer-related instructional book.

I expect that the textbooks they start youngsters out with are pretty easy to understand.

Can you recommend a very basic book for using a PC?  I currently use Windows 10, if that matters.

(I have found "X for Dummies" books to be too wordy for me; and I would prefer something a little more professional, even if it might be a school textbook for kids.)

Thanks!

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Find a kid and ask for help.

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What do you want to do that you believe a book for?

I learned by trial and error although my main focus was using Word. 

Edited by Brad

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Community college should have something for you. That's  how I  started learning. Knew absolutely nothing. Still don't know very much, but knowing the most basic things makes it easier to then figure things out further on.

Not everybody learns the same way, so it may be that a classroom setting, where you can ask questions about things in a book that don't really make sense, will be a better way for you personally to learn than tackling a book solo.

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I truly miss books.  I used to read manuals cover to cover - that's how I learned to use word processing and spreadsheet programs.  In fact, just today I downloaded a virtual book from the Apple iBook store, that covers iPads and the new iPadOS operating system.  Yes, I plan to read it cover to cover.  I also read some books in the '90's that explained how a PC works.  I still have them, published by ZD Press (Ziff-Davis): How Software Works, How Computer Programming Works, How Microprocessors Work, How Computers Work.  While the specs may have changed since then, I'll bet most of the basic processes are the same or similar.  

Unfortunately, the book industry is contracting; people just aren't buying books like they used to.  For example, I used to love buying the latest edition of Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide.  In the foreword of the latest edition, he announced it would be the last, since the market has dried up.  So, in looking at Amazon, it doesn't surprise me that I don't see too much choice in computer books.  I'm a Mac guy, so I don't keep up with the PC world, but you may want to consider one of these:

https://www.amazon.com/Computer-Absolute-Beginners-Windows-Content/dp/0789754517/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=computer+basics+book&qid=1571455026&sr=8-3

https://www.amazon.com/Windows-10-Missing-Manual-should/dp/1491981911/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

Another interesting recent development are the Raspberry Pi computers.  You build it yourself for very little money, runs variants of Linux, come with all the starter software you might need, and there are lots of tutorials and user groups to extend your knowledge.  Again, just do a web search for Raspberry Pi; the latest version is 4.

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1 hour ago, Chuck Nessa said:

Find a kid and ask for help.

LOL!  Two years ago I did find two kids from my nearby high school, and they taught me how to use Twitter.  But I still feel that I need a reference book to go back to (which I never had).

(By the way, that high school was Pistol Pete's alma mater.)

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2 hours ago, GA Russell said:

I have never taken a computer course, and I have never read a computer-related instructional book.

I expect that the textbooks they start youngsters out with are pretty easy to understand.

Can you recommend a very basic book for using a PC?  I currently use Windows 10, if that matters.

(I have found "X for Dummies" books to be too wordy for me; and I would prefer something a little more professional, even if it might be a school textbook for kids.)

Thanks!

You're here so you must already know how to use a PC. What else do you want to know? I only learn when I want to accomplish a specific task or have to fix a problem, and then I do it by googling until I find the info I need. After I've done what needed to be done, I promptly forget everything I learned.

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7 minutes ago, mjzee said:

https://www.amazon.com/Computer-Absolute-Beginners-Windows-Content/dp/0789754517/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=computer+basics+book&qid=1571455026&sr=8-3

https://www.amazon.com/Windows-10-Missing-Manual-should/dp/1491981911/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

Another interesting recent development are the Raspberry Pi computers.  You build it yourself for very little money, runs variants of Linux, come with all the starter software you might need, and there are lots of tutorials and user groups to extend your knowledge.  Again, just do a web search for Raspberry Pi; the latest version is 4.

Thanks for those two suggestions, Michael!

In fact I have seen Raspberry Pi before.  They now say that you can do your own pong-era video games.  Maybe that's the way I'll go if I get any money for Christmas.

53 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Community college should have something for you. That's  how I  started learning. Knew absolutely nothing. Still don't know very much, but knowing the most basic things makes it easier to then figure things out further on.

 

Jim, what you say has the ring of truth.  I would like to start with a book first, but maybe our community college is the way to go.

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8 minutes ago, GA Russell said:

LOL!  Two years ago I did find two kids from my nearby high school, and they taught me how to use Twitter.  But I still feel that I need a reference book to go back to (which I never had).

(By the way, that high school was Pistol Pete's alma mater.)

You don't need someone to teach you how to use twitter: it isn't brain surgery. This is how I look at this kind of stuff: it might seem confusing at first, but it was designed to be usable by literally everyone in the world, and billions of idiots have figured out how to use it, so it can't be that hard. If Donald Trump can learn to use twitter, anyone can. I was a bit intimidated when I got my first smart phone, but gradually I've figured out how to use it and I didn't take a class or read a book.

6 minutes ago, GA Russell said:

I would like to start with a book first, but maybe our community college is the way to go.

Find a cc on the internet and look at the syllabus for its computer courses, see what books they use.

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8 minutes ago, GA Russell said:

They now say that you can do your own pong-era video games. 

A Raspberry Pi computer can do anything your Windows 10 computer can do, pretty much immediately.

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13 minutes ago, mjzee said:

A Raspberry Pi computer can do anything your Windows 10 computer can do, pretty much immediately.

How does the OS/software compare to Windows? I've always been less than impressed with the open source software I've encountered.

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I'm at a loss to understand why you would need a course on how to use Twitter. You register, follow people who interest you, make tweets and you're off. Just don't make any stupid tweets like the infamous Justine Sacco. 

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There's this thing called search engines.

And you have the advantage of being a native English speaker. That should do.

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I'm less dismissive of the book idea than some of you. 18 months ago I found myself jobsearching for the first time in 30 years and it soon became very apparent I needed to master Twitter quickly.

I went to my local library (we still have a few that haven't been closed) and browsed the computer, jobsearch and business shelves. Found three books that looked at Twitter from different perspectives. All helpful. 

Yes, it's designed to be easily accessible but some of us like to learn in a reflective rather than active, trial and error, style.

So, my advice for what it's worth is your local library if accessible. Otherwise the local adult ed classes as already suggested. Look for the half day, taster style classes.

I work for a charity for older people and we run such tasters so depending on your age this too is an option.

Good luck. I will say I find Twitter increasingly addictive, so beware too!

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Operating systems and things like Twitter change things about their workings all the time. In my experience people who ask for manuals panic whenever change comes. They'll always go looking for a crutch.

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Maybe so but one man's crutch is another man's aid.

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2 minutes ago, mjazzg said:

Maybe so but one man's crutch is another man's aid.

And the aid seeker is the crutch's millstone.

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I have found that with computers, it's fairly easy to learn by simply clicking around everywhere. If you have Windows 10, click the start menu and run every single entry listed there. Just see what everything does. After you do this, go back to things that sounded interesting and click around in them. For Windows settings areas, like wireless settings and things like that, there are layers and layers of settings so go as deep as you can.

When you get to applications like Word, Excel & Powerpoint, there are libraries of books on how to use these apps' tools. You may never learn all their tricks, but you should click around in there enough to do what yo have to do. Excel is a very powerful data handler app. You can pretty much look at numbers up, down & sideways and display it anyway you want. People make long careers being proficient in Excel, so don't be worried if you're not an expert there.

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I usually go to youtube to pick up new computer skills.   You would be surprised at the amount of info available.  The key is to find a channel that is made by someone who does this often and is able to communicate ideas clearly. 

I recommend Excel Is Fun if you want to learn about spreadsheets.   Mike Garvin is a professor at a community college in Seattle and is also a Microsoft MVP. 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkndrGoNpUDV-uia6a9jwVg

Microsoft has really beefed up their portal to learn new skills.   You may want to browse this link for topics that may be of interest to you:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/browse/

There is a drop down to select your level of understanding and other filters to find products and roles.

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3 hours ago, erwbol said:

Operating systems and things like Twitter change things about their workings all the time.

Another reason they stopped publishing how-to books. It's like using horses to convey messages between automobiles.

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Hardcopy computer reference books are notorious for becoming outdated quickly, and I say that as someone who's sitting next to a bookcase full of them as I type this. Probably better to find online resources/references for basic stuff - perhaps something even more streamlined like this quick reference card for Windows 10 might be useful:

https://www.customguide.com/cheat_sheets/windows-10-quick-reference.pdf

For specific questions, I've rarely failed to find the answer to a technical question by simply Googling the question or several targeted keywords. You'd be surprised how often even IT professionals turn to Google to figure something out. You don't need to memorize everything when you've mastered the ability to locate relevant information quickly. 

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Guys, my OP was not about Twitter.  My concern is about computers.

It is a fact that I don't know what I don't know.

I also don't know the lingo.

I like the idea of buying the textbook the community college uses.  I'll investigate that.

Thanks!

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7 hours ago, GA Russell said:

Guys, my OP was not about Twitter.  My concern is about computers.

It is a fact that I don't know what I don't know.

I also don't know the lingo.

I like the idea of buying the textbook the community college uses.  I'll investigate that.

Thanks!

Are you asking about using a computer or the stuff inside the computer. You mentioned Windows 10 above, which is why I recommended what I did. It's how I learned my way around a computer. The best thing clicking around the menus is that there are almost always pop up info boxes when you hover over any button and there is almost always a cancel button, so you don't have to worry about doing anything bad.

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If you really know "nothing" except how to press buttons and push keys, I really recommend taking a class. The learning is very structured, very linear, they start you at the beginning and introduce things in a logical, progressive manner. By the time it's over, you should know not just how to do something, but why you do it that way, and why it works that way. Once you get that basic, foundational knowledge, THEN you can start clicking around and exploring. It will make more sense then, the things you do.

I don't recommend just buying a textbook and doing it solo. Textbooks are designed to support lesson plans, which means presenting information in the socialized setting of a class, and that's very important. The interactivity of a class, a good class, anyway, is one of the best ways to learn. A knowledgeable leader and a group of inquisitive learners is a time-tested method of meaningful learning.

And don't sweat the class. The one I took was full of adults on either side of my age, and we were all there for the same reason - this computer "thing" was something we knew we needed to know, and we wanted to find out, as you said, what we didn't know, and then learn it. The classroom setting was great, because there were a lot of people who didn't know the same things I didn't know, and a lot of times, some of us had a knowledge gap that other people had the answer to, and vice-versa, like we all had pieces of a puzzle then put them together in class. And with a good instructor, when you think you have something figured out but really don't...that won't be allowed to take root. Very important, that!

And remember - anybody who takes THAT type of class is not going to be full of some young whiz-bangs who's going to throw shade on all you weaklings . It's all going to be people like you, people who know that there's more to be had from these things than just knowing a few basic things and nothing more. As we get older, the thought of going back into a classroom is no doubt a little creepy. But remember - this is not something that you're doing for a report card or a transcript or anything like that. This is learning something you want to learn, for the sake of learning. Enjoy it!

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17 minutes ago, JSngry said:

If you really know "nothing" except how to press buttons and push keys.

Give me a break. He has been a member since 2003 and probably the Blue Note Bulletin Board before that. He just lacks initiative to find things out on his own and use the internet as a resource. Courses in quote "the very basics" are for dumbasses.

Edited by erwbol

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