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Re: Introduction to Computers and Linux updated (version 0.02)

David Buddrige (dbuddrige@ozemail.com.au) wrote...
> The new version 0.02 is now available.  It can be viewed at
> http://www.ozemail.com.au/~dbuddrige/computerbank/doco/
> Thanks heaps to all of you who responded with comments and suggestions.
> They are much appreciated.

Again, same deal as last time - "Evil Editor" cap :)
> Note that while the intent is to use CVS in the near future, I have not
> yet put the project into CVS.  Expect this to happen within the next
> week or so.

Who'll you let edit it?


And on to the fun stuff ...

>                     Introduction to Computers and GNU/Linux
>    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.

"computing" or "computers"  You're still either starting too simple
or ending up too complex, I thing.

> Legal Stuff
>    This document is released under licensed under the Open Content
>    License .  To summarise, 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 parts 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?
>    "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 parts:
>    1. Input part
>    2. Processing part
>    3. Output part
>    All this means is that a computer must have some way of getting
>    instructions from the outside world, some part that performs those
>    instructions and some way of outputting the results.  Without these
>    three parts, a "computer" is of no use to anyone.

No need to put the double quotes here.

>    For example, most Microwave ovens contain a computer of some form.
>    Their input part is normally provided by a touch pad, twist dial or
>    series of buttons placed on the front panel of the microwave oven.
>    The processing part is usually a chip that is stored within the
>    internals of the microwave ovens electronics.
>    The output part, 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 part to the electrical devices that control temperature
>    and microwave levels in the cooker itself.
>    Another kind of computer is a "Personal" Computer.  These are the

No need to put the double quotes here.

>    devices most people identify as "computers".  They typically have

No need to put the double quotes here.

>    input devices such as a keyboard and/or mouse, and they normally
>    output to some kind of "television" style monitor.

No need to put the double quotes here.

>    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

You haven't said what "IBM Compatible" means.

>    exist and are in common use, they are beyond the scope of this
>    document.

A thought I had today:  It'd probably make more cultural sense to
introduce computers in terms of Nintendos or Playstations as being
"simpler cousins" of computers - then liken the screen/TV,
keyboard/controller pad, disk/cartridge, etc.  Your audience is SURE
to know those machines!

> 2.3 What are the parts of a Personal Computer
>    There are a number of terms that describe the various parts of a
>    personal computer that can be quite confusing to the un-initiated.  It
>    is important that you Don't Panic.  Despite what some people may
>    think, Computers are actually quite simple.  However complete

Don't capitalise 'computer'.

>    unfamiliarity 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 parts:
>    <Insert-Graphic-Showing-parts-of-Computer-System-Here>
>                                     Part
>                                 Description
>    Keyboard This is the thing that looks like a typewriter.  It is used
>    for typing information into the computer.

In these definitions, "part" fits better than "thing" - they aren't
separate parts.  This applies all thought.

>    Monitor This is the thing that looks like a television.  It is the
>    main way that the computer provides it's "output" - although Printers
>    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,
>    strangely enough - it is a CD player.  However the CD's that you put

Excessive aprostrophe.

>    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

Excessive aprostrophe (both times).

>    if you don't have a CD-player.

Excessive hyphen.
>    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

Decide what markup you're using and stick to it, if you want to use
HTML then use <EM> and <STRONG> instead of _this_ notation.

>    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 of the time, CD's are used to store programs that you want to run
>    on your computer at some stage.

Better, but the second-last sentence is still unnecessary IMHO.

>    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.
>    The more RAM that you have, the more programs that you can run at the
>    same time - and the faster they will run.

You're assumed people can't identify the keyboard and screen without
help, yet they know what a "program" is ... careful.

>    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

"fundamental" is sorta out of step with the language style, keep
it simple?

>    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.

Excessive appostrophe.

>    This development model leads naturally to the following benefits:
>   2.5.1 The Cost of Linux
>    Linux can be obtained free of charge by downloading it from the
>    internet, or, alternately, you can purchase a "distribution" of Linux
>    on a CD for very low cost.  Some of the most popular distributions
>    include "Redhat", "Debian" and "Slackware".   Most people have their
>    own favourites however Redhat and Debian are probably the easiest to
>    install and use for new-comers.
>   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, the programs that make up Linux are extremely well written.
>    They are also very reliable.  Computers running Linux have been known
>    to run 24 hours per day for months and years at a time!
>    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.
>   2.5.3 The Hardware Requirements of Linux
>    Linux, will run on a 386 computer with 4 megabytes of RAM.  The market
>    rate for this kind of system in late 1998 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.

These two paragraphs are mega-techspeak compared to the above ... you
haven't said that a 386 describes the sort of CPU, or what a megabyte
is, or whatever ...

Also, "graphical counterpart" is incorrect.  "Front-end" maybe, but
that's also comparative techspeak.

> 2.6 What can I do with Linux?
>    Linux can be used either as a server computer that provides various
>    services (such as internet or email) to other computers, or it can be
>    used as a workstation computer as a computer that is to be used by a
>    single person.

Seems that the "server" concept is sorta irrelavent at this stage ...
simplify, simplify!
>    There are two broad categories of applications that exist for Linux.
>    These are Open Source  applications, and the commercial applications.

What's "open source"?

>    There are literally thousands of Open Source Applications that are

Caps (all three).

>    available for Linux .  These include Word processors and Spreadsheet

Caps (both).
>    applications through to programs that are designed to offer services
>    to other computers on the internet.  These applications are obtainable
>    in much the same ways as Linux itself is available - either on CD
>    through a range of companies that will sell you the software at a low
>    price (mainly to cover their distribution costs) or for free via
>    internet download.
>    A range of commercial applications also exist for Linux - including

What's "commercial"?

>    StarOffice - which includes Wordprocessing, Spreadsheet and
>    Presentation packages.  Wordperfect for Linux is also available from

What's word processing?  What's spreadsheet?  What's presentation?

>    Corel.  As well as this most commercial database vendors offer a Linux
>    version of their database systems - including Oracle, DB2 and

What's a database?

>    Informix.  These provide "tried-and-trusted" solutions for a range of
>    business applications.

> 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/
: When you say "I wrote a program that crashed Windows", people
: just stare at you blankly and say "Hey, I got those with the
: system, *for free*".  -- Linus Torvalds