Networking Home Computers

Sunday, April 8th, 2012 | Tips with No Comments »

Increasing Productivity With the Whole Family

Have you ever thought about networking your computers at home? If you have a small collection of computers around the house (and a small collection of computer users), you can connect each one of those computers to one another and share data, software, and hardware including a single Internet connection. There are many creative uses for home networking, however it’s an ideal situation when upgrading each computer to the same capability is financially out of the question. On a home network, each computer has access to the equipment of the better machine in the group as if that equipment were their own.

Connecting computers with either an Ethernet cable or a Wireless connection can create a home network. The easiest and cheapest method uses an Ethernet connection, which requires a series of network cards, a cable for each computer, and a router. The network card is similar to the old modems we used in the past to connect to the Internet, however in a home network, it’s used to communicate with every computer that’s connected to it.

You’ll want to first, select the computers that will connect to each other and then install the network cards inside each of them. Then you’ll connect a cable to each computer that will communicate with the server. These cables won’t connect to the server directly. Instead, they’ll connect to the router. To enable Internet access for each computer, this router will need to connect with a modem of the host machine.

Once the hardware is set up correctly (you’ll need to read the instruction manual of your equipment for details), you can then setup the network from Windows on each machine. Within Windows, you can set up a home network similar to the way that you set up an Internet connection. Only this time, you’ll set up a LAN (Local Area Network) connection.

Windows should walk you through setting up a LAN after starting the computer and once complete, you can begin to connect one of your machines to the network. You can do this through Internet Explorer by typing in the address and password required to access the router (the address and password required to access the router will be in the router manual).

Connected to the network, each computer can send files back and forth, open programs on a remote computer, play the sound files and videos located on another computer, and share a single Internet account to browse the web, download files, or chat with someone in an entirely different country.  If a single printer is available on only one computer in the network, every connected PC can send documents to it and print them out. Kids will enjoy the ability to play multi-player games and adults will enjoy the ability to blast a single message to everyone at once or maintain a group schedule.

Since we’re describing a home network that will connect to the Internet, you’re strongly advised to install a protective firewall program to thwart Internet viruses, worms, or other damaging spyware code. Firewalls prevent – but they don’t repair. Only anti-virus and anti-spyware programs can reverse damage. So you should install a firewall on the computer that grants access to the computer, and then install an anti-virus and anti-spyware program on each of the remaining computers in the network.

If you have files that shouldn’t be shared (bank statements, credit card information, etc.), you can restrict their access in one of several ways. You can put them in a new folder and then remove the “read” permissions for that folder. Or you can specify who can (and who cannot) access specific files with a password from within Windows Control Panel. We appreciate those who care most about our buisness and invest in it like SERT Data Recovery

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Introduction to Programming

Thursday, March 29th, 2012 | Tips with No Comments »

Controlling Your Computer with a Programming Language

In a previous article, we introduced automating some tasks with MS-DOS batch files. In this article, we’re going to introduce programming and describe how it can be used to control the way your computer works. Normally, computer novices aren’t interested in controlling the computer. New computer users are typically interested in learning more about how the thing works. However they may be surprised to learn that programming increases computer knowledge as a whole and it can help to diminish the fear associated with using a new computer.

Programming a computer is creating a sequence of instructions that enable the computer to do something.[1] The people who program computers (called programmers) use a programming language to communicate with a computer. You might have heard of some of these languages in the past such as Visual Basic, C++, or Fortran. There are hundreds of other programming language and neither one is better than the other. Most of them are capable of performing the same tasks and achieving the same goals. A programmer chooses one language by a simple preference.

Each of these languages differ by the way they communicate with a computer however, and the commands that they follow are very specific. Not a single command of one language can be interchanged with the commands or language of another. But all of them can be used to control a computer.

Now it would be impossible to teach you how to program any language in a single article. But we can still introduce you to some of programming’s most basic concepts – starting with the commands we talked about earlier. Commands are the instructions that a computer follows to perform an action. [2] To make them work inside of a program, programmers assign commands to objects like buttons for example.

The commands in a program are pretty useless unless they have some data to act on so programmers either give the programs some data to work with (list of names or numbers for example) or they make the program generate it’s own data. Sometimes, the data comes from an outside source like the Internet or the computer that the program runs on. The data that a program receives is called input and data that the program generates is called output.

Other times, the data is unknown. If the program were working with a simple algebra equation like, “x + 5 = y,” the variables “x” and “y” would be unknown pieces of data. Or if a program were to calculate a date “x” days from now, the variable “x” would be an unknown piece of data until we tell the program what “x” is. In programming, it’s sometimes required to work with unknown pieces of data.

That’s when conditions come in handy. Conditions allow a program to perform an action based on the outcome of a previous command.[3] Using this type of instruction, we could instruct a program to do one thing if the “x” variable in our latter example turned out to be 7 days, and then do different thing if the variable turned out to be 3 days.

Commands, data, variables, and conditions help build the most simple programs and there are certainly many more components of any programming language. But when they’re typed into a programming language and compiled to create a an executable file (a file ending with the .exe extension), they turn into a software application.

As we mentioned earlier, you can use a programming language to control your computer. By using simple commands, you can program your computer to perform mathematical tasks, fill out web forms, compose an email message and send it off, or any number of other things. If you’re interested, you may find Visual Basic is one of the most easiest programming languages to learn. Visual Basic is an object-oriented programming language and it automatically codes much of a program the minute a programmer drags a button onto a screen.



[1] Source:  WordWeb Pro 4.51

[1] Source: http://www.neobasic.biz/basics.htm

[1] Source: http://www.neobasic.biz/basics.htm

Programs Included With a New Computer

Friday, March 23rd, 2012 | Articles with No Comments »

Are they good enough to stand on their own?

The Windows operating systems already comes with a useful collection of pre-installed programs and even some games. But one of the first things that people do is download a butt-load of new programs as soon as a brand new system is plugged in the wall and connected to the Internet. This article looks at some of the programs that are included with most new systems and then asks the reader to consider if they’re sufficient.

NotePad and WordPad. All Windows systems include the two text editors, “NotePad,” and “WordPad.” Notepad is a plain text editor while WordPad is a rich text editor. Both files are capable of opening plain text, however WordPad can open Windows Write files (an earlier version of WordPad) as well as rich text files. WordPad can also save documents as plain text, rich text, and MS Word documents. So with WordPad having the ability to read and create rich text; embed objects (sound, pictures, and video); and manipulate fonts, we have to wonder if other word processors, which do the same thing, are really necessary. Although WordPad is certainly no match for Microsoft Word’s internal spell and grammar checker or Word’s Internet linking capabilities, we believe it’s a great introduction to word processing in general for computer novices.

Address Book. There are hoards of advanced contact database programs floating around the Internet and on store shelves, but Windows provides a completely competent contact database of its own simply known as “Address Book.” This small compact utility allows users to organize contacts by name, location, group, or number and it give users ample space to fully describe each. Compared to Microsoft’s Access database program, its user-friendly Address Book is a Godsend to new computer users.

Calculator. Calculator has been a Windows accessory even from its first debut in Windows 1.0. For the life of us, we can’t figure out why anyone other than a rocket scientist would want to install a different version than this free one that comes pre-installed. Windows calculator has two interfaces: an easy one, and a scientific one. So perhaps a rocket scientist could fare well with Windows Calculator after all!

Paint. Windows’ Paint program allows users to make changes to existing graphics, or create brand new ones at no additional cost. Interestingly, we can count at least ten different graphics packages that are more popular and widely used than this free one. While it doesn’t offer as many editing tools, it does provide the essentials and it can open/save graphics in .bmp, .gif, and.jpg format (the latter two being the most commonly format used for Internet eye candy).

Media Player. Real Player and QuickTime are the first programs we think of when we think about multimedia. But Windows Media Player, also free and pre-installed, does a fine job at transmitting Internet-bound sound and video. With this application, you can easily listen to .wav files, .midi files, and even tune into a little Internet radio if you like.

System Tools. Although there are too many to list here, Windows provides more than a handful of useful utilities that will monitor system resources, organize files, repair damaged disks, and more. Yet and still, you can easily find similar tools for sale at computer outlets and download libraries.

What’s going on here?

The truth of the matter is that the programs pre-installed are great tools for the beginning computer user. At some point down the road, usage will dictate a need for more powerful applications. We may need a word processor that can convert a document into an HTML page or PDF document. We may need a calculator that solves geometric problems. Or we may need a multimedia tool that lets us create our own videos as well as watch them. These capabilities aren’t included with new systems, but there’s no reason why we can’t exploit the tools that we’re given to their fullest.