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Re: Update to training manual "Introduction to Computers and Linux" as of

David Buddrige (dbuddrige@ozemail.com.au) wrote...
> http://www.ozemail.com.au/~dbuddrige/computerbank/doco/
> Comments/submissions/pointing out of spelling and technical errors and
> any other suggestions are welcome and encouraged. 8-)

Okay, here's my take on it.  I haven't taken any out so it's easy to
see which bits I'm talking about.  Posted to the list so - hopefully -
others will comment on my comments!

I've put my Evil Editor's cap on here, on the assumption that you 
want to make this the best it can be.

Also, the formatting is exactly as I saw it in Lynx.  You'll notice
a few places where the markup could be clearer.

>                       Introduction to Linux and Computers
>    A document to provide a training manual and trainer's guide for a
>    linux and computing course aimed at people with no prior knowledge of
>    computing.
> Legal Stuff
>    This document is released under the following conditions.

You specify a differenc license - the open content one - on the 
top page.  Make up your mind!

>    You may freely distribute, modify or use this documentation so long as
>    the following conditions are met:
>    1. Any organisation or person wishing to, may change this document or
>    base works upon this document, however any document or derived work
>    containing this document in part or in whole must also be licensed to
>    all other persons and organisations with the same terms as the ones
>    already provided.
>    2. No legal liability is accepted either implied or explicit for any
>    use or mis-use of this documentation.
>    3. No warranty is provided for any purpose including fitness for use -
>    you use this document at your own risk.
> Table Of Contents
>     1. Instructors Guide
>    1.1 How to use  this manual
>    1.2 Identifying your audience
>    1.3 Using terms and analogies that can be understood
>    1.4 .......
>     2. User's Guide
>    2.1 Introduction
>    2.2 What is a computer anyway
>    2.3 What are the components of a Personal Computer?
>    2.4 What is an Operating System?
>    2.5 What is Linux
>    2.6 What can I do with Linux and why should I be interested in it?
>    2.7 .....
>    2.X How do I find out the rest of what I need to know?
>    2.X Where to from here?
>                              1. Instructors Guide
>    To be developed...
>                                 2. User's Guide
> 2.1 Introduction
> 2.2 What is a computer anyway?

Is this a realistic start to how simple we want to get?  Should we
REALLY be aiming at a market who doesn't know what computers ARE?
(Are there people like this left in Melbourne?!)  I thought the
ComputerBank project was more aimed at people who were enthused
about computers but couldn't afford one?

>    "Computer" is a term that is used to describe many different
>    electronic devices that we use from day to day.  In it's simplest
>    form, all computers contain the following components:
>    1. Input Component
>    2. Processing Component
>    3. Output Component
>    All this means is that a computer must have some way of getting
>    instructions from the outside world, some component that performs
>    those instructions and some way of outputting the results.  Without

"outputting" is jargon too.  "Telling you the results"?

>    these three components, a "computer" is of no use to anyone.
>    For example, most Microwave oven's contain a computer of some form.


>    Their input component is normally provided by a touch pad, twist dial
>    or series of buttons placed on the front panel of the microwave oven.
>    The processing component is usually a chip that is stored within the
>    internals of the microwave oven's electronics.
>    The output Component, is twofold - firstly, there is usually a digital
>    display of some kind on the microwave that tells the person using the
>    microwave what they have selected, and there is also a connection from
>    the processing component to the electrical devices that control
>    temperature and microwave level's in the cooker itself.


>    Another kind of computer is a "Personal" Computer.  These are the
>    devices most people identify as "computers".  They typically have
>    input devices such as a keyboard and/or mouse, and they normally
>    output to some kind of "television" style monitor.

It doesn't seem appropriate you spend three times as long introducing
a microwave as a PC, when it's the latter we're focussing on!  Is there
a reason to use the microwave example at all?

>    This document is intended to give people a general introduction to
>    Personal Computers with a focus on how to use them.  For the purpose
>    of this document, when I refer to a computer, I will be meaning an IBM
>    Compatible Personal Computer.  While other kinds of personal computer
>    exist and are in common use, I they are beyond the scope of this

"I they"?

>    document.
> 2.3 What are the components of a Personal Computer

"Parts" is easier language.  This applies to the whole document,

>    There are a number of terms that describe the various components of a
>    personal computer that can be quite confusing to the un-initiated,
>    however in the words of Douglas Adams in his book "Hitchhiker's guide
>    to the galaxy" - Don't Panic.  Despite what some people may think,

Tortured sentence.

>    Computers are actually quite simple.  However complete unfamiliarity

"Computers" doesn't need a capital unless it's at the start of a

>    with them may breed confusion. As you become more familiar with the
>    fundamental concepts however the workings of a personal computer will
>    become easier for you.
>    Personal Computers usually have the following components:
>    <Insert-Graphic-Showing-Components-of-Computer-System-Here>
>                                  Component
>                                 Description
>    Keyboard This is the thing that looks like a typewriter.  It is used

It does?  Not much.

(This glossary renders badly in Lynx, BTW.  The words and definitions
run together.  Are you using a <DL>?)

>    for typing information into the computer.
>    Monitor This is the thing that looks like a television.  It is the
>    main way that the computer provides it's "output" - although Printers

"Printers" doesn't need a capital either.  (How old are you?)

>    are also much used.
>    Mouse A mouse is a relatively recent (within the last 10 years)
>    addition to Personal Computers.  It is used to control a small
>    "cursor" (or pointer) that is displayed on the Monitor.
>    CD-ROM This is the thing that looks like a CD player - because,

Most CD-ROMs look nothing LIKE CD players.  CD players are usually
black and have lots and lots of buttons and a little LCD display
usually.  My CD-ROM looks like a beige piece of plastic.

>    strangely enough - it is a CD player.  However the CD's that you put

What's strange about this?

>    into the CD-ROM can contain programs and information other than
>    music.  Most CD-ROM's can also play music CD's, which is kind'a handy
>    if you don't have a CD-player.

You're switching from a more official style to a chatty ("kinda")
style.  Choose one and stick to it.

>    The useful thing about storing programs and documents on a CD is that
>    you can take them to another computer - and a CD holds a _lot_ of
>    programs and documents.  The downside is that you cannot change
>    anything that is stored on a CD.  This is a real problem if you have
>    documents that you are still working on stored on a CD.

Most people have NO access to a CD-writer at all.  It'd be more
consistent with the other levels of detail to focus more on CDs being
a way that programs are distributed, I think.

>    Most of the time, CD's are used to store programs that you want to run
>    on your computer at some stage.
>    Hard Drive This is the place where your computer stores the programs
>    that you want to run from day-to-day.  It's sort of like a filing
>    cabinet for your computer, and is organised in much the same way (more
>    on that later).  However, to summarise, the bigger your hard-disk, the
>    more programs and documents you can store on your computer.
>    RAM Before your computer can run a program, it needs to put it in
>    RAM.  It's sort of like the computer's "desk" where it does it's
>    work.  Just as when you want to work on a document, you would take it
>    out of the filing cabinet and put it on your desk to work on it, so a
>    computer takes a program out of the hard drive and puts it in it's RAM
>    in order to use it.

Good metaphor :)  SO many people confuse the two.

>    The more RAM that you have, the more programs that you can run at the
>    same time - and the faster they will run.
>    CPU (Processor) This is the part of the computer that does all the
>    work.  It processes instructions that make up a program..
> 2.4 What is an Operating System?
>    An operating system is a special set of programs that control the very
>    fundamental parts of a computer.  At it's most basic level, an
>    operating system tells the CPU what do do with the various bits of
>    hardware that it has connected to it.  For example, if there were no
>    operating system on a computer, the computer would not know how to
>    respond when you press various keys on the keyboard.  It is the
>    operating system that instructs the computer what to do with the
>    signals  generated by the keyboard device.  Normally this will involve
>    feeding those keystrokes as input into a program that is running on
>    the computer.  The program would then perform various tasks based on
>    the information it gained from the keyboard signals and produce some
>    form of output - most commonly this would be sent to the screen or
>    printer.
> 2.5 What is Linux
>    Linux is an operating system that was developed by a host of
>    programmer's working together and collaborating over the internet.


And repeat after me:
   Apostrophes are ONLY used for posession or abbreviations.

>    This is the primary difference between it (linux) and most other

Just put "Linux" there, the extra's confusing.

Incidentally Linux =-does- need a capital letter.

>    operating systems that you may have heard of - such as Microsoft's
>    Windows or the Macintosh Operating System.  These other operating
>    systems were written by programmers employed by a company - in the
>    case of Windows the company is "Microsoft".
>    This fundamental difference in the way the operating system was
>    developed leads to the following main differences between Linux and
>    Windows:
>   2.5.1 The Cost of Linux vs Other Operating Systems

You've already said you're comparing Linux to Windows, so the all the
2.5.* headings just need to be "Cost", etc.

>    Companies do not produce anything unless they think there is money to
>    be made.  Microsoft charges people large sums of money for the right
>    to use their Windows operating system.  Typically this is roughly $100
>    for "Windows 98", or about $250 for "Windows NT workstation".

Linux, on the other hand, can be downloaded for free from the internet
or purchased on a CD-ROM for under $20.

>   2.5.2 The Reliability of Linux vs Other Operating Systems


>    Because Linux was developed by people who were motivated by interest
>    in computing and a desire to obtain the respect of their programming
>    peers - rather than a desire to make money - which usually leads to
>    wanting to keep the costs (in terms of hours spent by programmers) as
>    low as possible, the programs that make up Linux are extremely well
>    written.  They are also very reliable.  Whereas it is not uncommon for

Convoluted sentence here.  Keep sentences short and snappy.

>    a computer running Windows to have to be turned off, and turned back
>    on when an error occurs, computers running Linux have been known to
>    run 24 hours per day for months and years at a time!
>    One Linux enthusiast once boasted in 1997 that he had had a Linux
>    system permanently turned on without being re-started since before
>    Windows NT 4.0 was released (in 1995)!  Apparently this person was
>    eventually forced to turn off the computer when it came time to move
>    office - having run without error and without being restarted for more
>    than 2 years!
>    As you might imagine, this is an extremely useful aspect of Linux -
>    particularly when used in situations where the computer cannot afford
>    to fail - such as in banks, and similar organisations.  However for
>    users for whom the computer is not quite so critical, it is still very
>    useful to not have to worry about your computer crashing, but rather
>    remaining in a state whereby you can concern yourself with actually
>    doing something useful with the computer - rather than having to
>    nursemaid a broken operating system.

This is very rantey and not really relavent.  I'd condense the whole 
section 2.5.2 down into one paragraph at most.  eg:

   Because there are so many programmers working constantly on Linux,
   problems are quickly fixed.  This means that errors in the computer
   are much less common than if you run Windows.

>   2.5.3 The Hardware Requirements of Linux as opposed to other operating
>   systems

"Hardware Requirements"

>    Because a company needs to make money in order to survive, it needs to
>    ensure that there is always going to be someone to buy it's products.
>    It has been suggested by many that as part of a strategy to keep
>    Windows users spending  more money on new versions of Windows each
>    successive versions of Windows have required bigger and faster
>    computers.  This has meant that although a given computer may be
>    perfectly workable, it must be "upgraded" in order to run the newly
>    created software.  After a certain time, Microsoft refuses to support
>    it's older products - insisting rather, that users purchase the later
>    version of their product.  In this way, it is suggested, Microsoft
>    keeps people on an endless treadmill that pours money into a company
>    that is now clearly the biggest company (in financial terms) in the
>    world.  Latest reports have suggested that Microsoft has liquid cash
>    assets in excess of US$17 billion!
>    Linux on the other hand, will run on a 386 computer with 4 megabytes
>    of RAM.  These computers are now so devalued that many second hand
>    computer retailers will not even bother to obtain them in order to
>    on-sell them - where a 386 can be purchased - it's market rate is less
>    than $100 in Australian Dollars.
>    In order to run X Windows - which is the graphical counterpart to
>    Linux that makes Linux easier to use, can be run comfortably on a 486
>    with 16 megabytes of RAM, which can be purchased second hand from a
>    second hand computer dealer with a warranty for between $400 and $500
>    as of late 1998.
>    While these systems would be considered far too slow to run the latest
>    versions of Windows, they will run Linux at speeds that are well
>    within acceptable limits.  Because of this, Linux has often been used
>    to provide cheap server computers by many organisations - in
>    particular to provide the services that comprise the World Wide Web -
>    on old computers that would otherwise be thrown out.

It's another rant - watch that!  Anti-MS sentiments won't help us here.
Stick to the pro-Linux sentiments. 

Again, make this a paragraph at most.  Explain that Linux will run on
old computers very well, which means you don't have to keep spending
money all the time on new computers.

>   .2.5.4 Other aspects of using Linux rather than Windows


>    There has been much conjecture within the industry that Microsoft may
>    infact alter their operating system in ways that make it difficult for
>    people to use any product that is not produced by Microsoft.  A
>    classic example of this is the case of Netscape - which was almost put
>    out of business when Microsoft decided that it's Internet Explorer
>    browser should be bundled along with the Windows Operating System.
>    The United States Department of Justice has alleged that Microsoft did
>    this because it felt that the Netscape Browser - which has the ability
>    to run programs written in a language called Java - and which itself
>    runs on lots of different operating systems, had the potential to
>    allow people to use operating systems other than Microsoft's.
>    Therefore in order to destroy Netscape (and thereby stop people using
>    operating systems other than Microsoft's Windows), they gave away a
>    competing browser along with their operating system - which at the
>    time held greater than 90% market share, and which came pre installed
>    with most new computers.

Rant.  This whole section should be deleted.  Apart from being
unnecessary, it's not going to be understandable to your hypothetical
audience who - just 300 lines ago - didn't know what a computer was.

Keep your audience's experience level in mind.

> 2.6 What can I do with Linux and why should I be interested in it?
>    Linux can do everything that Windows can do and more.
> 2.7 What is a file system?
> 2.8 .....
> 2.X How do I find out the rest of what I need to know?
> 2.X Where to from here?

: --Hacker-Neophile-Eclectic-Geek-Grrl-Queer-Disabled-Boychick--
: gossamer@tertius.net.au   http://www.tertius.net.au/~gossamer/
: Linux: the operating system with a CLUE... Command Line User
: Environment.  -- comp.software.testing