Computer Basics (Continued)



Application/program-- a specially designed piece of software created to do a specific task or function, like word-processing, spreadsheets, creating graphics, etc., Examples would be programs like Word, Word Perfect, and Excel.

Byte--Abbreviation for binary term, a unit of storage used to measure data on the computer. Like physical space would be measured in Inches and Feet, computer space would be measured in Bytes and Kilobytes, etc. On almost all modern computers, a byte is equal to 8 bits. Large amounts of memory are indicated in terms of kilobytes (1,024 bytes), megabytes (1,048,576 bytes), and gigabytes (1,073,741,824 bytes).

CD-ROM-- is an abbreviation for Compact Disc, read-only-memory. It is another storage device for files, such as a Floppy disk. Currently most CD's will not use this term, but instead will be called CD-R (for readable only), or CD-RW (for readable/writtable). Readable only means that you can only save information to it once and that unlike a floppy it can't be reused over and over again. Readable/writtable means that you can save information and then delete it and reuse the disk. You must use a software application to "burn" or write/save information to a CD and you must have a CD drive that is also a CD-RW drive sometimes called a "CD Burner". Unlike Floppies, CD's can come in various sizes indicated by the number of MEGs (i.e. 700 megs, 800 megs, etc).

CPU-- Central Processing Unit. This is the brain of the computer. Information will usually be printed, displayed on the screen, or saved either to the hard drive or a disk (Floppy or CD).

Crash--a computer crash or the expression "my computer has crashed" usually means either your screen has frozen or you have reached a blue screen/error message. If a program has frozen, but your mouse/pointer can still move try to go to another open program and close it. Often a computer will freeze if there are too many applications opened at once and it runs out of memory (RAM).

Cursor-- is a visual indicator (usually represented as a blinking line in text programs or as an arrow) on the screen that lets you know where your mouse is positioned. On a web page the cursor usually turns into a pointing hand when positioned over a button or link that when clicked on will take you somewhere new. The cursor allows you to insert text where you wish, or to select existing items to be deleted, copied, or modified in some way.

Desktop-- in a Windows environment, the desktop is the view on the monitor that you usually see after starting the computer and after the Windows screen has loaded. It displays your icons and shortcuts. Most desktops will have at least an icon for My Computer (links to all of the drive letters of your computer), a Recycle Bin (garbage can where files are stored when you delete them until you choose to "Empty your Recycle Bin" at which point they are actually gone) and My Briefcase (a place to store files for later retrieval or movement).

Drive-- any part of the computer where disks reside and operate, temporarily or permanently. See floppy drive, CD drive, and hard disk/hard drive. You may also have a tape drive for backing up materials such as a ZIP drive.

File/document-- any single item created with an application, this can be anything that is saved to your computer, such as a paper, a spreadsheet, pictures, sounds, and downloaded programs (although usually documents only refer to items with text).

NEXT (Glossary)



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