The Teaching Guide
Windows Specific Stuff
Macintosh Specific Stuff
Some Philosophical Matters

Introduction
Using the Mouse
Icons
windows with a small w
The Desktop Metaphor
Menus and Their Use
Dialog Boxes and Saving and Opening Files
Switching Between and Opening Applications

Kinds of Files
Folders
Using Keyboard Shortcuts
Editing Text
Powering On Your Computer
Shutting Down and Crash Recovery
Getting More Help
Shortcuts and Aliases
Deleting Files
Finding Files and Folders
Terminology


Quiz Number One
Quiz Number Two
Quiz Number Three
Crossword Puzzle
Word Search


 

Computer Basics
Some Basic Terminology


Local Contents

 Some Basic Terminology
 Links to more glossaries
 Take a Quiz

Some Basic Terminology

Here are a few terms you'll run into:

Application Files
Program files environment where you can create and edit the kind of document that application makes.

Click
To select an object by pressing the mouse button when the cursor is pointing to the required menu option, icon or hypertext link.

Close
To close a window that has been opened for viewing and / or editing.

Computer
A general-purpose machine that processes data according to a set of instructions that are stored internally either temporarily or permanently.

Central Processor Unit (CPU)
This term has two meanings (just to confound beginners, you understand)
1) Central Processor Unit--the main chip on the computer that makes everything go.
2) The box that holds the guts of the computer.
A faster CPU is always better than a slower one. You can never have too fast of a CPU.

Crash
Your computer or application no longer works correctly and so you "loose" all the work you've done since the last time you saved.

Creating A File
Storing data as a file with an assigned file name that is unique within the directory it resides in.

Delete
To remove an item of data from a file or to remove a file from the disk.

Desktop
An on-screen representation of a desktop such as used in the Macintosh and Windows operating systems.

Dialog Boxes
Takes over your screen and allows you to "dialog" with the computer.

Directory (AKA Folder, sub-directory)
Allows you to organize files and other folders.

Disk Space
This is the place where your files live. The greater the disk space the more files you can keep. (See also Megabytes)
More disk space is always better than less. You can never have much disk space.

Documents
Files you create and edit.

Document Files
Files we care about (memos, letters, pictures, etc.)

Double Click
To press the mouse button twice in rapid succession without moving the mouse between clicks.

Drag
To move an object on screen in which its complete movement is visible from starting location to destination.

Edit
To make a change to existing data.

File Cabinet
Metaphorically, the hard drive (and other kinds of storage media like floppy disks) which store files and folders.

Folder (AKA Directory, Sub-Directory)
Allows you to organize files and other folders.

Folder Icons
Collections of documents and other folders.

Icons
In a graphical user interface (GUI), a small, pictorial, on screen representation of an object, such as a document, program, folder or disk drive.

Icon View
Allows you to see icons of folders and files primarily as icons with little information.

Keyboard
This if the primary text input device. It also contains certain standard function keys, such as the Escape key, tab, and arrow keys, shift and control keys, and sometimes other manufacturer-customized keys.

Kilo (K)
This is a unit of measure = 1,000.  So 1,000 bytes is a KiloByte.

List View
Shows the icons but also orders the icons (often by name, but can sort the list in other ways) and shows more information about them.

Macintosh
The brand name of a family of personal computers (hardware) and an operating system (software) from Apple, introduced in 1984.

Megabytes (Mb)
Mega = million so Mb is 1,000,000 bytes.  It's enough information for the computer to store one character (e.g. "h"), so 1mb text file = 1,000,000 keystrokes in that file. Just to confound the masses, although RAM and Disk Space do something completely different we measure both in megabytes. This leads to confusion.

MegaHertz (Mhz)
This stands for MegaHertz. A hertz is an electronics term. 1 hz = one cycle (or wavelength) per second. 1 megahertz = 1,000,000 cycles per second.
In computer jargon, Mhz measures how *fast* your CPU chip runs. Although it's more important to know the chip than the speed, if you're comparing the same kind of CPU chip then a higher / faster CPU speed (measured in MHz) is better than a slower speed.

Menu
Displays a list of commands, some with images next to them.

Modifier Keys
Keys that change the meaning of what you type.

Mouse
Pointing device that allows you to tell the computer what to do.

Operating System (OS)
System software that allows your computer to work.

Pointer (AKA Cursor)
The name of the arrow (or other shape) that tracks across the screen as you move the mouse (or other pointing device) around.

Random Access Memory (RAM)
This stands for Random Access Memory. You can think of this as the "space" where you computer does its processing. The more space you have the more processes you can run at the same time. More RAM is always better than less. You can never have much RAM.

Recycle Bin
Place where you put files and folders that you may later want to delete or get rid of. Compare Trash.

Resize Box
Allows you to change the size and shape of a window.

Right click
To press the right button on the mouse. (This is Windows specific. On a Mac running System 8 or higher, you hold down the Control key and then click to get the same effect.)

Save
Tell the computer to create a file on disk that has the information you've put into the document (usually typing).

Save As
Give the file a name and/or store the file in a certain place.

Scroll bar
Allows you to move around through your document.

Shut down
To quit all applications and turn off the computer.

Software
Instructions that tell the computer what to do.

System files
Allows our computer to work.

Trash
Place where you put files and folders that you want to delete or get rid of.

Volume Icons
Devices that hold files and folders.

Windows
1) The most widely used operating system for personal computers from Microsoft. (Software only. Other companies manufacture the hardware that runs the Windows Operating System.) Compare Macintosh. (Windows with a large "W".)
2) The thing you see on screen that contains a directory listing or the contents of a document. (Window with a small "w".)

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Links to more glossaries

Why reinvent the wheel? Here are some more glossaries to look at:

http://www.microsoft.com/mac/glossary/default.asp
Microsoft's very brief glossary of some Macintosh (and general computing) terms.

http://www.techweb.com/encyclopedia
Quite a comprehensive you-put-in-a-term-and-we'll-define-it glossary. A bit technical in its langauge.

http://wwwo.delphi.com/navnet/glossary/
Another quite complete and somewhat technical glossary.

http://www.iserv.net/~alexx/glossary.htm
A briefly annotated glossary of--glossaries!

http://www.InstantWeb.com/foldoc/
Another term searcher.

http://www.islanderis.net/html/body_dictionary.html
A fairly brief glossary of Internet terminology, particularly.

New Internet Glossary
http://www.teachersfirst.com/glossary.htm
A nice little glossary with pretty good, short explanations.
 

Terms
http://dewey.cps.k12.il.us/mentor1/terms/terms.htm
Pretty good explanations of a lot of general computer terms. Including narative explanations of some issues (like "The Need for Speed").
 
 
 
 

Take a Quiz!

Please take either Quiz #1 or Quiz #2 or Quiz #3 at this point, whichever you haven't taken yet.
Quiz Number One
Quiz Number Two
Quiz Number Three
We also have some other terminology related activities for you. Try these too!
Crossword Puzzle (Best if printed out)
Word Search (Best if printed out)
Enjoy them all!
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