Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics (Absolute Beginner's Guide Series) / Edition 5

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Overview

Everything casual users need to know to get the most out of their new Windows 7 PCs, software, and the Internet

  • The best-selling beginner's guide, now completely updated for Windows 7 and today's most popular Internet tools - including Facebook, craigslist, Twitter, and Wikipedia
  • Easy step-by-step instructions cover setting up a new PC, getting online, working with digital media, using productivity tools, and much more
  • By the world's #1 author of beginning technology books, Michael Miller

This year, you may be one of the millions of casual computer users that will buy a new Windows 7 notebook or desktop PC. You'll want to know how to find your way around, get comfortable, and get the job done - without jargon, complexity, or hassle. There's a book for you: Michael Miller's Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics, Windows 7 Edition. It's the one book that covers everything today's beginners and near-beginners need to know: not just about Windows, but also about software, hardware, and the Internet. Through 90+ books, author Michael Miller has established an unparalleled track record in explaining complicated concepts simply and clearly, and empowering beginners. Now, he's thoroughly updated his best-selling Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics to cover today's user experience - with Windows 7, Internet Explorer 8, and today's hottest online tools, from craigslist and Facebook to Twitter, Wikipedia, and Google Docs. Miller offers step-by-step instructions and friendly, practical advice for making the most of Windows 7's improvements, including the new taskbar, Action Center, and Aero Snap. He walks through setting up a new computer; connecting to the Internet; working with digital media; burning custom CDs; watching DVD movies; using Microsoft Office and other popular software; managing money online; setting up home networks; keeping PCs running reliably; and protecting them from spam, viruses, and spyware. This is the one indispensable book for today's PC novice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789742537
  • Publisher: Que
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Series: Absolute Beginner's Guide Series
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 426
  • Sales rank: 229,229
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Miller is a successful and prolific author with a reputation for practical

advice, technical accuracy, and an unerring empathy for the needs of his readers.

Mr. Miller has written more than 90 best-selling books over the past two decades. His

books for Que include Absolute Beginner’s Guide to eBay, How Microsoft Windows Vista

Works, Speed It Up! A Non-Technical Guide for Speeding Up Slow Computers, and

Googlepedia: The Ultimate Google Resource. He is known for his casual, easy-to-read

writing style and his practical, real-world advice–as well as his ability to explain a

wide variety of complex topics to an everyday audience.

You can email Mr. Miller directly at abg@molehillgroup.com. His website is located at

www.molehillgroup.com.

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Table of Contents

Part I: Getting Started
1. How Personal Computers Work
2. Setting Up Your New Computer System
Part II: Using Windows
3. Getting to Know Windows 7
4. Personalizing Windows
5. Working with Files, Folders, and Disks
Part III: Upgrading and Maintaining Your System
6. Adding New Hardware and Devices to Your System
7. Setting Up a Home Network
8. Performing Routine Maintenance
9. Dealing with Common Problems
10. Protecting Your PC from Viruses, Spam, and Other Online Nuisances
Part IV: Using Computer Software
11. Installing New Software
12. The Suite Spot: Working with Microsoft Works and Microsoft Office
13. Letters, Memos, and More: Working with Microsoft Word
14. Crunching Numbers: Working with Microsoft Excel
15. Presenting Yourself: Working with Microsoft PowerPoint
Part V: Using the Internet
16. Connecting to the Internet -- at Home or On the Road
17. Surfing the Web with Internet Explorer
18. Searching the Web
19. Researching with Wikipedia
20. Shopping Online
21. Buying and Selling in eBay Online Auctions
22. Buying and Selling on craigslist
23. Banking and Paying Bills Online
24. Watching Videos on the Web
25. Using Web-Based Applications
26. Creating Your Own Web Page
27. Exploring Other Cool and Useful Websites
Part VI: Communicating via the Internet
28. Sending and Receiving Email
29. Sending and Receiving Instant Messages
30. Social Networking with Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter
31. Exploring Blogs and Podcasts
Part VII: Exploring the Digital Lifestyle
32. Organizing and Editing Your Digital Photos
33. Sharing Your Digital Photos Online
34. Playing, Ripping, and Burning CDs
35. Downloading and Playing Digital Music
36. Using Your PC with an iPod or iPhone
37. Playing DVDs on Your PC
38. Making Your Own Digital Home Movies

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Preface

Introduction

Since this is the Absolute Beginners Guide to Computer Basics, let's start at the absolute beginning. Which is this:

Computers aren't supposed to be scary.

Intimidating, sometimes. Difficult to use, perhaps. Inherently unreliable, most definitely. (Although they're better than they used to be.)

But scary? Definitely not.

Computers aren't scary because there's nothing they can do to hurt you. And there's not much you can do to hurt them, either. It's kind of a wary coexistence between man and machine, but the relationship has the potential to be quite beneficial. To you, anyway.

A lot of people think that they're scared of computers because they think they're unfamiliar with them. But that isn't really true.

You see, even if you've never actually used a computer before, you've been exposed to computers and all they can do for at least the last 20 years or so. Whenever you make a deposit at your bank, you're working with computers. Whenever you make a purchase at a retail store, you're working with computers. Whenever you watch a television show, or read a newspaper article, or look at a picture in a magazine, you're working with computers.

That's because computers are used in all those applications. Somebody, somewhere, is working behind the scenes with a computer to manage your bank account.

In fact, it's hard to imagine, here at the dawn of the twenty-first century, how we ever got by without all those keyboards, mice, and monitors. (Or, for that matter, the Internet.)

However, just because computers have beenaround for awhile doesn't mean that everyone knows how to use them. It's not unusual to feel a little trepidation the first time you sit down in front of that intimidating monitor and keyboard. Which keys should you press? What do they mean by double-clicking the mouse? And what are all those little pictures onscreen?

As foreign as all this might seem at first, computers really aren't that hard to understand—or to use. You have to learn a few basic concepts, of course (all the pressing and clicking and whatnot), and it helps to understand exactly what part of the system does what. But once you get the hang of things, computers really are fairly easy to use.

Which, of course, is where this book comes in.

Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics, 2nd Edition, will help you figure out how to use your new computer system. You'll learn how computers work, how to connect all the pieces and parts together, and how to start using them. You'll learn about computer hardware and software, about Windows and operating systems, and about the Internet. And after you're comfortable with the basic concepts (which won't take too long, trust me), you'll learn how to actually do stuff.

You'll learn how to do useful stuff, like writing letters and balancing your checkbook and creating presentations. Fun stuff, like listening to music and watching movies and playing games. Online stuff, like searching for information and sending email and chatting with friends via instant messages. And essential stuff, like copying files and troubleshooting problems and protecting against thieves and hackers.

All you have to do is sit yourself down in front of your computer, try not to be scared (there's nothing to be scared of, really), and work your way through the chapters and activities in this book. And remember that computers aren't hard to use, they don't break easily, and they let you do all sorts of fun and useful stuff once you get the hang of them. Really!

How This Book Is Organized

This book is organized into six main parts, as follows:

  • Part 1, Getting Started, describes all the pieces and parts of your system, and how to connect them together to get your new PC up and running.

  • Part 2, Using Windows, introduces the backbone of your entire system, the Microsoft Windows operating system. You'll learn how Windows works, and how to use Windows to perform basic tasks, such as copying and deleting files and folders. (You'll also learn fun stuff, like how to change the picture on your computer desktop.)

  • Part 3, Upgrading and Maintaining Your System, contains all the boring (but necessary) information you need to know to keep your new PC in tip-top shape. You'll learn how to add new pieces of hardware to your system, how to set up either a wired or wireless home network, how to perform routine maintenance, and how to track down and fix common PC problems.

  • Part 4, Using Computer Software, tells you everything you need to know about running the most popular computer programs. You'll learn how to use Microsoft Works Suite, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Money, and all sorts of other programs—including educational software and PC games.

  • Part 5, Using the Internet, is all about going online. You'll discover how to surf the Web, send and receive email, use instant messaging and chat, and download files. You'll also learn how to shop online, buy and sell at online auctions, and create your own personal Web page—and how to protect your system from computer viruses, email spam, and other nuisances.

  • Part 6, Working with Music, Movies, and Photos, shows you how to download and play digital music files, how to burn your own audio CDs, how to watch DVDs on your computer screen, and how to use your PC with your digital camera and camcorder.

Taken together, the 38 chapters in this book will help you progress from absolute beginner to experienced computer user. Just read what you need, and before long you'll be using your computer like a pro!

Conventions Used in This Book

I hope that this book is easy enough to figure out on its own, without requiring its own instruction manual. As you read through the pages, however, it helps to know precisely how I've presented specific types of information.

Menu Commands

Most computer programs operate via a series of pull-down menus. You use your mouse to pull down a menu and then select an option from that menu. This sort of operation is indicated like this throughout the book:

Select File, Save

or

Click the Start button and select All Programs, Accessories, Notepad.

All you have to do is follow the instructions in order, using your mouse to click each item in turn. When there are submenus tacked onto the main menu (as in the All Programs, Accessories, Notepad example), just keep clicking the selections until you come to the last one—which should open the program or activate the command you wanted!

Shortcut Key Combinations

When you're using your computer keyboard, sometimes you have to press two keys at the same time. These two-key combinations are called shortcut keys and are shown as the key names joined with a plus sign (+).

For example, Ctrl+W indicates that you should press the W key while holding down the Ctrl key. It's no more complex than that.

Web Page Addresses

There are a lot of Web page addresses in this book. (That's because you'll probably be spending a lot of time on the Internet.) They're noted as such:

Technically, a Web page address is supposed to start with http:// (as in http://www.molehillgroup.com). Because Internet Explorer and other Web browsers automatically insert this piece of the address, however, you don't have to type it—and I haven't included it in any of the addresses in this book.

Special Elements

This book also includes a few special elements that provide additional information not included in the basic text. These elements are designed to supplement the text to make your learning faster, easier, and more efficient.

Tip - A tip is a piece of adviceÑa little trick, actuallyÑ that helps you use your computer more effectively or maneuver around problems or limitations.

Note - A note is designed to provide information that is generally useful but not specifically necessary for what youÕre doing at the moment. Some are like extended tipsÑinteresting, but not essential.

Caution - A caution will tell you to beware of a potentially dangerous act or situation. In some cases, ignoring a caution could cause you significant problemsÑ so pay attention to them!

Let Me Know What You Think

I always love to hear from readers. If you want to contact me, feel free to email me at abg@molehillgroup.com. I can't promise that I'll answer every message, but I will promise that I'll read each one!

If you want to learn more about me and any new books I have cooking, check out my Molehill Group Web site at http://www.molehillgroup.com. Who knows—you might find some other books there that you'd like to read.


© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Read More Show Less

Introduction

Introduction

Since this is the Absolute Beginners Guide to Computer Basics, let's start at the absolute beginning. Which is this:

Computers aren't supposed to be scary.

Intimidating, sometimes. Difficult to use, perhaps. Inherently unreliable, most definitely. (Although they're better than they used to be.)

But scary? Definitely not.

Computers aren't scary because there's nothing they can do to hurt you. And there's not much you can do to hurt them, either. It's kind of a wary coexistence between man and machine, but the relationship has the potential to be quite beneficial. To you, anyway.

A lot of people think that they're scared of computers because they think they're unfamiliar with them. But that isn't really true.

You see, even if you've never actually used a computer before, you've been exposed to computers and all they can do for at least the last 20 years or so. Whenever you make a deposit at your bank, you're working with computers. Whenever you make a purchase at a retail store, you're working with computers. Whenever you watch a television show, or read a newspaper article, or look at a picture in a magazine, you're working with computers.

That's because computers are used in all those applications. Somebody, somewhere, is working behind the scenes with a computer to manage your bank account.

In fact, it's hard to imagine, here at the dawn of the twenty-first century, how we ever got by without all those keyboards, mice, and monitors. (Or, for that matter, the Internet.)

However, just because computers have been around for awhile doesn't mean that everyone knows how to use them. It's not unusual tofeel a little trepidation the first time you sit down in front of that intimidating monitor and keyboard. Which keys should you press? What do they mean by double-clicking the mouse? And what are all those little pictures onscreen?

As foreign as all this might seem at first, computers really aren't that hard to understand—or to use. You have to learn a few basic concepts, of course (all the pressing and clicking and whatnot), and it helps to understand exactly what part of the system does what. But once you get the hang of things, computers really are fairly easy to use.

Which, of course, is where this book comes in.

Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics, 2nd Edition, will help you figure out how to use your new computer system. You'll learn how computers work, how to connect all the pieces and parts together, and how to start using them. You'll learn about computer hardware and software, about Windows and operating systems, and about the Internet. And after you're comfortable with the basic concepts (which won't take too long, trust me), you'll learn how to actually do stuff.

You'll learn how to do useful stuff, like writing letters and balancing your checkbook and creating presentations. Fun stuff, like listening to music and watching movies and playing games. Online stuff, like searching for information and sending email and chatting with friends via instant messages. And essential stuff, like copying files and troubleshooting problems and protecting against thieves and hackers.

All you have to do is sit yourself down in front of your computer, try not to be scared (there's nothing to be scared of, really), and work your way through the chapters and activities in this book. And remember that computers aren't hard to use, they don't break easily, and they let you do all sorts of fun and useful stuff once you get the hang of them. Really!

How This Book Is Organized

This book is organized into six main parts, as follows:

  • Part 1, Getting Started, describes all the pieces and parts of your system, and how to connect them together to get your new PC up and running.

  • Part 2, Using Windows, introduces the backbone of your entire system, the Microsoft Windows operating system. You'll learn how Windows works, and how to use Windows to perform basic tasks, such as copying and deleting files and folders. (You'll also learn fun stuff, like how to change the picture on your computer desktop.)

  • Part 3, Upgrading and Maintaining Your System, contains all the boring (but necessary) information you need to know to keep your new PC in tip-top shape. You'll learn how to add new pieces of hardware to your system, how to set up either a wired or wireless home network, how to perform routine maintenance, and how to track down and fix common PC problems.

  • Part 4, Using Computer Software, tells you everything you need to know about running the most popular computer programs. You'll learn how to use Microsoft Works Suite, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Money, and all sorts of other programs—including educational software and PC games.

  • Part 5, Using the Internet, is all about going online. You'll discover how to surf the Web, send and receive email, use instant messaging and chat, and download files. You'll also learn how to shop online, buy and sell at online auctions, and create your own personal Web page—and how to protect your system from computer viruses, email spam, and other nuisances.

  • Part 6, Working with Music, Movies, and Photos, shows you how to download and play digital music files, how to burn your own audio CDs, how to watch DVDs on your computer screen, and how to use your PC with your digital camera and camcorder.

Taken together, the 38 chapters in this book will help you progress from absolute beginner to experienced computer user. Just read what you need, and before long you'll be using your computer like a pro!

Conventions Used in This Book

I hope that this book is easy enough to figure out on its own, without requiring its own instruction manual. As you read through the pages, however, it helps to know precisely how I've presented specific types of information.

Menu Commands

Most computer programs operate via a series of pull-down menus. You use your mouse to pull down a menu and then select an option from that menu. This sort of operation is indicated like this throughout the book:

Select File, Save

or

Click the Start button and select All Programs, Accessories, Notepad.

All you have to do is follow the instructions in order, using your mouse to click each item in turn. When there are submenus tacked onto the main menu (as in the All Programs, Accessories, Notepad example), just keep clicking the selections until you come to the last one—which should open the program or activate the command you wanted!

Shortcut Key Combinations

When you're using your computer keyboard, sometimes you have to press two keys at the same time. These two-key combinations are called shortcut keys and are shown as the key names joined with a plus sign (+).

For example, Ctrl+W indicates that you should press the W key while holding down the Ctrl key. It's no more complex than that.

Web Page Addresses

There are a lot of Web page addresses in this book. (That's because you'll probably be spending a lot of time on the Internet.) They're noted as such:

Technically, a Web page address is supposed to start with http:// ). Because Internet Explorer and other Web browsers automatically insert this piece of the address, however, you don't have to type it—and I haven't included it in any of the addresses in this book.

Special Elements

This book also includes a few special elements that provide additional information not included in the basic text. These elements are designed to supplement the text to make your learning faster, easier, and more efficient.

Tip - A tip is a piece of advice--a little trick, actually-- that helps you use your computer more effectively or maneuver around problems or limitations.

Note - A note is designed to provide information that is generally useful but not specifically necessary for what youÕre doing at the moment. Some are like extended tips--interesting, but not essential.

Caution - A caution will tell you to beware of a potentially dangerous act or situation. In some cases, ignoring a caution could cause you significant problems-- so pay attention to them!


Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2004

    for an adult reader

    Miller continues in his series of introductory computer books with this offering. An easy look at computers, aimed at the complete tyro. Slightly cartoony in some of the figures. But it is not aimed at kids, though they could certainly gain from it. A typical user is suggested by the cover. Like perhaps a middle-aged person who thus far has sat out learning this stuff. Like I said, it is not a kid's book. The narrative is sober. Miller is careful to minimise the use of computer jargon. And when he does introduce such jargon, you get s clear explanation. Look, you're not going to feel like you're reading your child's textbook. Whether by accident or design, Miller seems to have positioned this book as somewhat of a contrast to a Dummy's or Idiot's book, even though all 3 might be aimed at the same audience. By the way, he concentrates on Microsoft computers. Apple and linux users may gnash their teeth at this, but he is just following the market realities.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2012

    Not for kids

    Not for kids

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    Posted December 31, 2009

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    Posted December 14, 2009

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    Posted December 10, 2010

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