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    Selling your computer

     

    Selling Your Computer Looking At Alternatives At some point, your needs are going to outgrow the capabilities of your computer. You may find yourself in need of more hard drive space for all those videos and mp3s that you download, for example. Or maybe that cool new programming language you've been dying to try requires more memory than what your computer currently has. Unless the activities on your computer are restricted to pure textual output (plain text files), your computer is going to get filled with a lot of "stuff" - stuff that can overfill a PC's capacity too much for the computer to function well. The problem is that while upgrading a computer is always an option, technology advances so fast that newer products (such as memory chips, new drives, etc.) aren't always compatible with the machines that we own. This is a common occurrence when newer pieces of hardware require the programming of a newer operating system. Sure, one could upgrade the operating system to accommodate the demands of a new piece of hardware, but trouble starts when that new operating system requires new hardware in return. If we're not careful, we could end up replacing almost every hard and soft part of a computer that we own - all in an effort to upgrade! Upgrading in this fashion is not only silly to do so, it's also costly - more costly than simply buying a new computer. But once the decision to buy a computer is set in stone, what can be done with the old one? There are alternatives to selling a computer and this article is going to introduce a few of them. 1. Give it to the kids. This is of course, assuming the kids are too young to whine about not having enough SDRAM or less than a 160GB hard drive. Today's "older" computers are perfectly capable of accommodating the needs of young PC users, and they're excellent machines for playing educational CDs, small multimedia files, or games downloaded from the Internet. And don't forget the most important role they play in a child's homework-clad life: A simple encyclopedia CD on a used computer makes excellent research tool (not to mention a rather fancy calculator!). 2. Donate it to a less-fortunate or less-literate family member. We often joke around the office about the "grandma" who refuses to use a computer until she can afford the "latest" one. Chances are, Grandma isn't ever going to shell out the bucks to buy the latest computer on the market, nor is she going to know how to use it once she gets it. What Grandma doesn't realize however is that a used computer is an excellent training tool that she can use to prepare herself for something "better" in the future. We always say, "'Tis better to screw up something on an old, used machine than to screw up everything on a brand new one!" A couple of errors on an old, used machine are easier to fix because someone is going to have the experience and knowledge to fix it. Errors on a new machine however can be a beast to fix because we're all knocking at Microsoft's door looking for answers. 3. Convert the machine into a storage area. As another alternative to selling that machine, we suggest that people disconnect it from the Internet and use it to store personal documents, records, or files. This way, personal data (such as bank statements, store receipts, health records, etc.) is protected from prying viruses or hackers, while the newer machine is used to surf the net. As you can see, old computers still serve a purpose either for you or for someone else. And although selling an old computer is always an option, there are a number of things that you can do with an old computer. All that's required is a little "out of the box" thinking and a grateful recipient. Word count 654

         
    Smartphones

     

    Smartphones What's the craze all about? If you haven't heard of smartphones, we'd like to learn where you've been hiding all this time. Smartphones have been all over the news and chances are, you do know what they are - only you know them under a different name. Smartphones are mobile phones with computer like capabilities. What's that? Aha! Yes, you've not only heard of them, you've probably seen them as well. Packed with Internet access, email capabilities, address books, and a whole lot more, cell phones have come a long way since their first debut. But be careful not to confuse these newest toys with sandbox devices. Sandbox devices are tools that come pre-loaded with things like calendars, calculators, and a notepad. What differentiates them from smartphones is that users can add (download and install) additional programs to smartphones and they seemingly become mini portable computers for the people who use them. That - and the ability to edit the content that sits on them - is what makes these phones "smart." Some of the more popular brand names include the Blackberry, PalmSource, Nokia, and Windows CE. Yet the craze is extending to even some off-brand company names. Today, it's hard to find a cell phone that doesn't offer some sort of "smart" technology because it's in such a high demand. The convenience of having information at our immediate access is phenomenal - so much so that thousands of programmers have jumped on the opportunity to build unique applications specific to these small machines. As a result, you can find tons of games, databases, GPA systems, weather reporting programs, and even small encyclopedias on these things - each accessible not at the click of a mouse - but at a few presses of a free thumb. Of course a mini keyboard is available for the text-messaging fan or for the poor fellow who can't seem to get away from the office. In the latter case, don't be surprised if you find the entire Microsoft Office suite displayed within a screen no bigger than a matchbook. Is this a phase? That's highly doubtful. The market for these devices extends from the highly technical and professional all the way to the pre-teen socialite. The product crosses all demographics and thanks to decreasing costs - it sees no economic boundaries as well. The Wikipedia encyclopedia claims that "Out of 1 billion camera phones to be shipped in 2008, Smartphones, the higher end of the market with full email support, will represent about 10% of the market or about 100 million units." But what is it that makes smartphones so appealing? As mentioned, smartphones give us the ability to not only carry our data around with us where ever we go, it also gives us the ability to edit that data any place - any time. In today's "reality" based generation, we're always looking for the opportunity to capture and relive a moment. And we want to share that moment with others. At best, smart phones give us the opportunity to express ourselves impromptu with entertaining results. Attempting to do the same with a bulky desktop computer or laptop is to cumbersome. Even some of the smallest peripherals (digicams, digital cameras, etc.) don't give us the same opportunities that smart phones do. Being able to carry around a device for communication, creation, recording, and editing simply compliments the need for today's generation to do more and then do it, faster! Word count 570

         
    Software piracy

     

    Software Piracy It's Best To Avoid It At All Costs Like electronic identity theft, computer viruses, and the spread of other computer crimes, software piracy is on the rise. The problem with software piracy is that software costs make this illegal activity appealing to the end user. After all, who is it going to hurt? Rich software companies?? This article investigates software piracy as a whole and the impact that it has on the computer using industry. The most vulnerable victims of software piracy are software businesses or independent programmers who create and distribute commercial software or shareware. We described shareware in another article, but because both commercial software and shareware require payment, they're the target of pirates who seek to make these kinds of programs free to use. Depending on their binding legal agreements, licensing typically allows the use of a single program on a single computer. This set up is usually fine for a user who uses software at home on one computer. But in an environment where there are five, ten, twenty or more computers, buying a license for each computer can be down-right costly. So costly that the temptation to pirate a little software here and there can be pretty tempting. Co-workers are familiar with this temptation and they're often the ones who "share" purchased software among those who need it. However the same temptation also prompts others to knowingly or unknowingly buy bootleg copies of commercial software or registered shareware. As tempting as it is, it's still illegal and the punishments/fines for sharing commercial or registered software is too much for one to bear. In recent news, "Yahoo China loses music piracy case (AP via Yahoo! News) A court has ordered Yahoo Inc.'s China subsidiary to pay $27,000 for aiding music piracy, the company and a music industry group said Tuesday."1 Additionally, "EU lawmakers approve prison terms, fines for major commercial piracy (International Herald Tribune) EU lawmakers voted Wednesday for legislation that would set prison sentences and fines for large-scale commercial piracy, but exempt patents and copying carried out for personal use." 2 Fortunately, there are alternatives. Schools can research student versions of commercial software or ask for a school discount. Just because school rates aren't advertised, it doesn't mean that they aren't available. Freeware or open source software (also described in another one of our articles) is another alternative to pirating commercial-ware, as well as shareware. And using older versions of programs could additionally reduce the costs associated with commercial versions. Up until recently, public opinion held little faith in freeware or open source software - often regarding it as low-quality knock-off's of better known commercial products. But if you take a good look at what's being offered at no cost, you may be in for a big surprise. The quality of today's freeware and open source software created a strong rift among the commercial community and it's literally driving the competition bananas! So much so, that even some well known software development corporations have joined the cause and built a few freeware open source products of their own! If you can remember that there are hoards of alternatives to costly commercial software (and you make the effort to get it), you'll discover that you can keep up with the rest of the computer industry at a significantly cheaper cost than if you attempted to pay your way down the software aisle. Software piracy just isn't the answer. Word count 572 1 Source: news. yahoo/s/ap/20070424/ap_on_hi_te/china_yahoo_music_piracy_2 2 Source: iht/articles/ap/2007/04/25/europe/EU-FIN-EU-Piracy. php

         
    Understanding compression

     

    Understanding Compression What It Is and What's Involved Downloading files from the Internet has always been one of the most popular activities on the Internet - third to sending email and browsing the web. We download files from software libraries, ftp directories, YouTube and Google Video, MP3 sites, and we download files sent to us as email attachments. Being so popular an activity, it's imperative that you compress the files destined for another computer. File compression combines a number of different files into one file, and it can also significantly reduce a very large file to a smaller one. As a result, the transmission of a compressed file across the Internet is faster and smoother. This article looks at compressed files a little closer and it describes how to compress and decompress them using two of the most popular archiving programs. Identifying Compressed Files Most files are compressed in. zip format (if you're using Windows) or. sit format (if you're using a Mac). The two most popular software programs used to compress and decompress files are Winzip and StuffIt respectively. There are other programs that do the same thing and there are even programs that can compress and decompress files for both the Windows and the Mac system. However since Winzip and StuffIt are the most popular, we will assume you will use either one to compress and decompress your own files. If you download a compressed file from a website or file library that ends in an. exe extension, take note that although the file is compressed, it's typically a file that will install a program onto a computer..Zip or. Sit files don't install software - they merely archive a collection of them into one, or they significantly reduce the size of a larger one. Decompressing Files Assuming that you have Winzip or StuffIt installed on your computer, you can access the files archived inside a. zip or. sit file by simply double-clicking the archive (a file ending in a. zip or. sit extension). Double-clicking one of these kinds of files will open up a window that displays the contents of the archive. In most cases, you can double click a file inside this window to use it, or you can select it and drag the file to a folder to view later. Depending on how you elected to install Winzip or StuffIt, you may be able to right-click a. zip or. sit file and have the program extract its contents into a new folder for you. Compressing Files When you want to upload a file or email a collection of files to a friend, it's best to archive it as a. zip or. sit file first. This will decrease the time it takes for your computer to send it elsewhere, and it will also decrease the time it takes for someone else to download it. To create your own. zip or. sit file, you can select a single file or a group of files from within Explorer, and right-click the selection. Again, depending on how you installed Winzip or StuffIt, you can click the "Add to Zip" or "Add to Sit" option and have these programs automatically archive the file(s) into one. Some files compress better than others and in some instances, you may not notice that much of a difference. The files that compress the best are images, documents, and multimedia files. Executable files (files that end in an. exe extension) don't compress that well, however when they're archived with a sizable number of other files, they compress rather well. Go figure! Word count 594

         
    Understanding the os

     

    Understanding Operating Systems Every new computer that's brought home from the store has an operating system installed onto it. But what most new computer users don't realize, is that without an operating system, that computer would be a simple shell of possibilities. A powered computer lacking an operating system wouldn't display anything more than a bunch of confusing text messages that describe the computer's boot process. At the very end of this process, the computer looks for an operating system and if not found, it will prompt the user to tell it where it is. Earlier computers didn't have an operating system and if you have experience with the computers of the early eighties, you'll remember that most to them didn't even have a hard drive! These old computers booted an MS-DOS type operating system from drivers stored onto a floppy disk, and in order to use a program, users would remove the boot floppy and then insert a new floppy that contained the program. The floppy not only stored the program (word processor, spreadsheet, etc.), it also stored the drivers that the program needed to communicate with the computer's hardware. As you can imagine, the cumbersome process of switching from floppy to floppy prompted the birth of the operating system. An operating system is a software program that controls how the computer's hardware (and installed software) works. It manages the activity of every component and then displays that activity as a user-friendly interface (GUI). It keeps track of where things exist on a computer's hard drive as well. But perhaps most importantly for the end-user, the operating system is responsible for translating commands issued with a keyboard and mouse into binary code (010110101 stuff) that can communicate with a set of speakers, a printer, a scanner, and more. With an operating system installed onto a computer's hard drive, users no longer need to boot a computer with a floppy disk, nor do they need to run programs from a floppy disk. All the drivers of a program are stored onto the computer and used whenever a program is started. Apple's Macintosh computer was among the first of a couple systems to establish a user-to-hardware relationship through a user-friendly interface. Today, we have quite a few operating systems. Some of the more popular ones are Windows Vista, Mac OS X, ZETA, IBM, Unix, and Linux. But even still, operating systems have extended onto to non-computer devices such as game consoles, portable music players, and PDAs. Regardless of the device, the operating system installed onto it serves the same purpose across the board: to enable user-to-hardware communication. When you think about upgrading your computer to a new operating system, be careful to make sure that you have the necessary hardware components. We tried to upgrade one of our Windows 98 machines to Windows XP, but we were cautioned that the former may not be hardware compatible with XP technology. Apparently, the Windows XP operating system requires components that weren't developed at the time Windows 98 was distributed and if we were to install Windows XP on this machine anyway, the new operating system would look for hardware that the computer didn't have. And that would be an instant recipe for failure. Also be careful about installing operating systems that are incompatible with existing hardware. The hardware of Macintosh computers is extremely different from the hardware of Windows computers and under no circumstances will a Windows operating system work on a Macintosh machine! Word count 581

         
    Using computers

     

    Using Computers It's Not Rocket Science These days it's strange to hear people say, "I'm just not computer literate," as computers have evolved from archaic scientific calculators to simple point-and-click type machines. We suspect that today's "computer illiterates" are people who haven't taken the time to experiment with such a machine. And we strongly believe that spending just twenty minutes with one could turn the most adamant technological caveman into any one of those who have fun wreaking chatroom havoc on the Internet today. Today, one only needs to learn how to manipulate a mouse, punch a few buttons on a keyboard, or really just turn the thing on to use a computer. It's hard for some folks to believe, but the computers of this generation almost run themselves! For fun, let's investigate just how little knowledge these thousand-dollar machines actually require. Can an absolute newbie operate a computer without knowing how to use a mouse or keyboard? Assuming that a computer is set up to operate on voice command - sure! Voice command software allows users to tell a computer what to do and the computer responds by fulfilling the user's commands. Although it's pretty new and still under development, voice directed technology has already infiltrated consumer service related systems. Think back to the last time that you paid a bill over the phone. Instead of speaking to a human being, chances are that you spoke to a computer that not only responded to what you said and followed the commands that you gave it, it also asked you for more information such as your full name or credit card number. In this case, a person (such as yourself) operated a computer without even knowing it! Can an absolute newbie sit down at a computer without knowing how to use one? Assuming that a computer is set up to operate on touch command - the answer is again, yes! Touch command software allows users to literally touch objects on a monitor and tell the computer what to do with a finger. Known as "kiosks," these programs are already in use world wide at ATM machines, employment centers, and in health monitoring systems. Neither a mouse nor a keyboard is required. A computer user only needs to touch various boxes on a screen to control a computer. Sure, the programming behind such technology is extensive and advanced, but to the end user, it makes computer use less intimidating and plain easy. Of course when we talk about operating a computer, we envision more involvement than speaking on the phone or touching things on a screen. The above illustrations were just a couple of examples of how far computer technology has grown, and how far we've pushed "user-friendliness" to its limit. Eventually, the keyboard and mouse will have to play a role when computer newbies have to work with one as a cash register, as a hotel booking program, or as a library's catalog system. These requirements don't make computers any less easier to operate, but they don't make them that much harder either. So much of today's software is designed to accommodate the experience of a new user that anyone could get connected to the Internet, send an email message, and download an MP3 file within the first five hours of purchasing a personal PC. Word count 553

         
    Viruses

     

    Viruses What They Are And One Reason Why People Make Them Over recent years, computers have become synonymous with viruses and viruses don't show any signs of disappearing any time soon. In recent news, LiveScience reported that "Before the month is even done, April has set a record for virus e-mails."1 In the past, we would be comfortable in telling new computer users not to worry about viruses and that catching a computer virus is rare. Today, that would be some of the worst advice we could give anyone. As reported in countless news reports, computer viruses are rampant and they're extremely worrisome. This article will describe what viruses are and then point you in the direction of some rather unique protection and prevention. In short, a computer virus is a software program designed to destroy or steal data. It attacks computers via distribution - often unknowingly - through email attachments, software downloads, and even some types of advanced web scripting. Viruses that destroy data are known as Trojan horses, viruses that explode their attacks are called bombs, and viruses that duplicate themselves are called worms. Some viruses are a combination of each, however they can be further identified according to where they're located on a computer. A virus originating from the boot sector of a computer is a boot-sector virus and this nasty devil does its dirty work the moment a computer is turned on. A virus that attaches itself to (infects) other programs is a file virus and activates the moment that an infected program starts. File viruses may also be referred to as parasitic viruses, however should a virus work from both the boot-sector and from an infected program, the virus is then known as a multipartite virus. Why viruses exist remains a mystery, however we had privy access to the mind behind a virus programmer who explained his motivation behind his destructive inclinations. Apparently, this person had a deep grudge against a popular online service which shall remain unnamed. In this hacker's mind, the online service failed to do a quality job in protecting children from online smut and as retaliation, he created and distributed a virus to as many file libraries of this service as he could. His intentions were to disable the computers of the online service's users so much that they wouldn't be able to connect for days. In his mind, the loss of connection meant loss of revenue for the online service. Although the malicious code that this person generated may have worked for a small percentage of users, sufficed to say, the online service continued on and still exists today. Despite his motivation or intention, his efforts were null. We wouldn't be surprised to learn if other motivations behind spreading viruses were similar to this person's, but that doesn't justify the damage that viruses do. Innocent people become pawns for the evil plans of others who've convinced themselves they're doing the "right" thing. To protect a computer from getting a virus, or clean a virus from a computer system once infected requires the use of an antivirus utility. But may be something else we can do. Perhaps we could make an effort to educate the people who want put viruses into the public about ways to display dissatisfaction with a service or product that don't involve harming innocent parties. In doing so, we just might reduce the number of virus news stories and protect our own investments at the same time. Word count 578 1 Source: news. yahoo/s/livescience/20070426/sc_livescience/recordsettingspameffortturnscomputersintozombies

         
    What's that file

     

    What's That File? An Introduction to File Extensions In an effort to be "user-friendly," Windows (and perhaps some other operating systems) hides the most important part of a file name from new computer users: the extension. Okay - we're assuming that the reasoning behind hiding extensions is a "user-friendly" one because we just can't come up with any other reason for hiding them. No harm could ever come from seeing an extension, but plenty could be learned from it. Fortunately you have this article to guide you through some of the most common extensions that you'll run into. But before you can see file extensions, you need to turn them on. From Windows Explorer, click on the "Tools" menu, and select "File Options." Click the "View" tab and then uncheck the box next to "Hide file extensions for known file types." Click "OK" and you'll notice that the files in Windows Explorer show a dot and group of three letters after their names. That dot and group of three letters is known as an "extension," and the extension explains what kind of file it is. A file could be a plain text file, an image, a sound, a video, or program. But without seeing the extension, you wouldn't know it unless you double-clicked on it. The following list defines some of the most common extensions that you'll find on your computer. .au - This extension indicates a sound file. Most sound players will load up and play this kind of file. .art - This extension indicates an image file that was compressed with AOL (America Online) technology. Both Internet Explorer and the AOL service software can display this kind of file, however if you don't have AOL installed on your system, Internet Explorer will display it. .avi - This extension indicates a video file playable by most multimedia viewers including Microsoft's Media Player. .bmp - This extension indicates another image file that might have originated from Windows Paint program. .dll - This extension indicates a Dynamic Link Library which may contain additional programming code for software. Many different programs often share Dynamic Link Libraries and you'll find a bunch of them in the Windows/System directory (but don't ever delete them)! .exe - This extension indicates a program or an application like Microsoft Word, Internet Explorer, or Outlook Express. Use extreme caution when downloading. exe files from the Internet since malicious programmers like to hide viruses in these types of files. .gif - This extension indicates another image file and it stands for "Graphics Interchange Format.".Gif files are often smaller than. bmp files (described earlier) and they're commonly found on Internet web pages. .jpg - This extension indicates yet another image file and it stands for "Joint Photographers Experts Group." Like the. gif file, it's commonly found on Internet web pages, however it's much smaller than both the. gif image and the. bmp image. .mid - This extension indicates a sound file created with a Musical Instrument Digital Interface. Windows Media Player will open and run these files, however they don't sound like normal. wav or. mp3 files (described later)..Mid files are designed to product synthetic sounds using a computer's sound card. .mp3 - This extension indicates a sound file that authentically reproduces voice and/or music. Windows Media Player will open and run this kind of file. .scr - This extension indicates a screen saver file. .sit - This extension indicates a Macintosh archive StuffIt file. They will not open on a Windows system without a special utility. .ttf - This extension indicates a font especially designed for use on a Windows system. It stands for "True Type Font." .txt - This extension indicates a plain text file that can be opened with Notepad. .wav - This extension indicates a sound file that like the. mp3 file, can be opened with Windows Media Player or Windows Sound Recorder..Wav files are much larger than. mp3 files. .zip - This extension indicates a Windows archive WinZip file. They will not open on a Macintosh system without a special utility. Word count 677

         
    When less is more

     

    When Less Is More Clean Your Disk Drive of Unnecessary Files and Your Computer's Performance Will Improve When it comes to maintaining your computer, you've probably heard it all before. "Run Defrag!" "Scan Your Disk for Errors!" Although these two activities are important, there's more you can do to extend the life of your computer beyond today's predicted two-year span. In fact, by following the simple advice below, you can enjoy the use of your computer to up to five years or more - reserving expenses to simple software upgrades rather then complete and costly hardware upgrades. One of the easiest and least expensive things you can do to extend the life of your computer is to get rid of unnecessary programs, folders, and files. A disk drive that's clogged with unnecessary and unused files is disk drive that works harder than it has to. Although Window's defrag system can ease some of the stress that these files place onto the drive, it doesn't do much to get rid of the problem in the first place. This is because the defrag program simply organizes the files in a system that makes it easier for the computer to access. (Thus cutting down on the work required to find and load them). But this method merely "relieves" the symptoms that these files induce - it doesn't attack the cause. These files need to be deleted - not "organized!" Of course, deleting files can be a scary adventure to most users. Most computer users don't know which files are safe to delete and which aren't. The worst thing anyone could do is snoop around crucial Window directories and haphazardly delete files that don't look familiar. Doing so could render important programs inoperable, corrupt the Windows operating system, and possibly prevent the computer from even starting. That's why using special deletion software is so important. Deletion programs will analyze a computer's operating system and installed programs to determine which files are crucial to computer function versus which files are safe to delete. You already have such a program on your computer and it's Windows' Add/Remove Programs (available from the Control Panel). This software will assist you with deleting programs that you not only no longer want, but additional files that these program use as well (dynamic link libraries, database files, registry references, shortcut icons, etc.). But sometimes Windows' Add/Remove Programs isn't enough. Although this software does a pretty good job of removing unwanted programs, it can leave some files behind even after a complete uninstall - files which become orphan files. And it's these orphan files that can really clutter up a hard drive and shorten the life of an otherwise, young and robust PC. Orphans are usually files that contain temporary data created by a program, files created by the user, partial files left over from a computer crash, or any other kind of miscellaneous files created for almost any other reason. The problem is that an uninstall program doesn't delete the orphan files it leaves behind because they were never part of the program when it was first installed. An uninstall program can remove only the files it placed onto a hard drive during its install routine. So while Windows' Add/Remove Programs can remove an entire program, you'll need to get rid of those pesky little things with a more advance file cleaner like CleanSweep for example. CleanSweep is a unique program that will specifically seek out files that are no longer associated with a program, and then ask if you want to delete them. The only time that you wouldn't want to delete an orphan file is if the file were an actual document that you created before deleting a program. If you were to say, uninstall Microsoft Word, all the documents that you created with Word would then turn into orphan files. Or if you were to uninstall a graphics-editing program, all the pictures you made with the program would become orphan files. The smart thing to do when you don't want to lose the data that you created with an unwanted program is to: 1. Save or convert your documents to a format that will work with different program first (that is, a program that you intend to keep) 2. Archive them onto a floppy disk, flash drive, or CD-ROM 3. Proceed with a program like CleanSweep. Using CleanSweep or any other similar type of utility could delete anywhere from less than a megabyte of hard drive space to over five megabytes and up. That may seem like a small amount of "clog material" to you, but to your computer, it's a lot less to process! Word count: 772

         
    Working with computers

     

    Working With Computers In Today's Society, There's No Escape Well, we've been warned that this time would come - probably from the earlier eighties on. Yes, computers have finally taken over and if you doubt it, we're here to convince you - but not because we want to or because we can. We want to convince you that if you don't take the necessary steps to control that reign, you're going to be left behind further than you could have ever imagined. Computers are everywhere. Take a moment to try and think of a place a business where you didn't see a computer in use. From the small local corner store to the largest hospital, computers are in every gas station, grocery store, bank, restaurant, beauty shop, and doctor's office around. From a consumer's point of view - you may not think that's much to worry about. But along with computers, we've also been infiltrated with a little thing called "self-service." Today, there are more self-serviced resources than ever and in an effort to synchronize them with headquarter databases, they're provided via your inescapable computer. Here are some examples. Banking is self-serviced through the desktop-clad ATM machine. Gas stations are self-serviced through a menu-clad touch screen kiosk. Most cash registers are Windows XP or Vista machines that send purchase details back to headquarters via the Internet (or a small Intranet). Having your weight, blood pressure, and heart rate measured and recorded is now a digitized process. Even ordering a pizza is now a simple matter of dialing from a wireless cell phone and making a few selections from series of pre-programmed menus! The important thing to realize here is that this phenomenon isn't a new convenience - it's a new requirement. And if you haven't jumped onto the binary wagon, you're going to face a few problems. For just as this new lifestyle was once predicted, we're going to predict that "the old ways" will slowly disappear. We're going to predict that all paper-based transactions (checks, money orders, etc.) and documentation (think of the old filing cabinet system) will disappear. We're going to predict that chips will replace everything that was once transported from one location to another through the trusty post office. And we're going to predict that homes will become less cluttered with stacks of paper and that our natural resources will flourish as a result of it. This all sounds fine and dandy of course, but if you're not computer savvy, you're going to feel a little lost once the choice has past and the revolution is 100% complete. Fortunately, computer systems are designed in a way that even a child can manipulate them. In fact, if you can remember that most systems are designed along the line of menus and the selections of a few options on these menus, you'll do just fine no matter how many buttons there are to push. For example, when you're faced with an electronic system, look for a main menu. Most main menus display themselves as soon as a device is turned on, so chances are that if you're standing before a device that shows a bunch of choices to do something, you're looking at a main menu. The buttons on these main menus of course take you to additional menus, which in turn give you even more choices to make. And all of those choices will eventually bring you to the service that you need. One very important choice you'll want to keep your eye on is the option to return to the main menu. This way, you can return to the beginning of a system and start over in case you get lost among the way. Another important choice that you want to keep your eye on is the choice to get help! This option may not be available on every device that you encounter, but when it is available, be sure to use it. There's just no way around itputers and computerized systems are here to stay. There's no need to fear them - but you surely can't avoid them. Just remember the menu system and you'll soon discover that you can approach and use these things as if you designed them yourself. Word count 703

         
     
         
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