Computer

What Every Computer User Should Know | News

What Every Computer User Should Know |  News

A guy called me not long ago and said, “I want to ask you a stupid question. Is there a computer I can buy and use where I don’t have to learn anything? There is the million dollar question, if there ever was one. Unfortunately, despite all the major technological advances in recent years, computers still cannot read our minds. No matter what brand or type of computer, tablet or smartphone you buy, you will always have to learn something if you want to use it.

Computers do some things very well, making some tasks infinitely easier. Yet unless you have your basic skills, you’re missing out on most of the time and labor-saving conveniences that computers can provide. With standard desktop and laptop computers, I urge everyone to learn the following skills.

Learn to use your cursor. Originally a Latin word for runner or, plural, messengers, a computer cursor is a moving marker or pointer that indicates a position within a field of view. That pointy arrow that moves as you move your mouse is a cursor. Depending on where it is, it may also look like a capital “I” (called an “I-beam” cursor). That flashing vertical or horizontal line in a document indicating where you can type is also a cursor. You can move and position your cursor in various ways, such as pointing and clicking with your mouse. You can also move it using the up/down/left/right arrow keys. Sometimes you will even have two cursors on the same screen, a mouse cursor and an input cursor. When working in a text document, hold down the Control (ctrl) key while pressing the arrow keys and watch where your cursor goes. Also try with the Home and End keys. Very convenient!

Learn to type. Some people are perplexed when I show up to work on their computer and they learn that their computer “expert” is not very good at typing. I know where the keys are though; I am not (yet) very fast. The point is, you learn to type and you’ll be infinitely more productive. When my daughter, who grew up around computers, was about ten years old, I bought her a program called “Mario Teaches Typing”, which featured the Nintendo game character teaching typing in a children’s game setting. She loved it, and within about a month she was typing 40 to 50 words per minute by the age of ten. Now she types faster than I think. For free typing lessons, check out www.learn2type.com.

Learn how to right click. Your mouse has more than one button for a reason. The left button (left click) is used to position your cursor, start programs, select/highlight items, and move (or “drag”) objects, among other things. On the other hand (or button, so to speak), the right click is used to open hidden menus. Just start experimenting and see what you can discover. Just hover your mouse cursor over an object, like one of those little icons at the bottom of your desktop, right-click, and see if a little menu pops up. Right-click any empty space on your screen, or inside a text document or website. With a proper mouse, right-clicking also works on Macs. Surprising!

Next week: even more things you should know, like copying, cutting and pasting.

Dave Moore, CISSP, has been repairing computers in Oklahoma since 1984. Founder of the non-profit Internet Safety Group Ltd, he also teaches community training workshops on Internet safety. He can be reached at 919-9901 or internetsafetygroup.com.