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Book/website for basic overview of computers

  1. Feb 4, 2013 #1
    Hi all,

    I wondered if you would mind recommending a book or website for getting a general (think broad rather than deep) overview of computers? I'm interested in both hardware and software.

    My background is that I am happy to use them for the stuff I do i.e. knocking up something basic on powerpoint, word, browsing, the usual emailing or watching stuff online, skype, downloading/uploading etc. So I don't need something that starts from scratch like "This is the mouse. The mouse controls the cursor. The cursor is the little icon on screen via which you interact with the stuff on screen..." But I don't know much more than your average recreational user and non-computing uni student.

    I don't mind some theory - in fact I quite like the conceptual stuff about how it all works - but I also would like to not be like, 'Uh wuuuut?' when people talk about presumably basic practical technical stuff or suggest as a solution to a problem, 'have you configured x, y and z?'. So e.g. I know that the processor is like the brain of the computer and the faster the processor the faster you can do stuff, and more processors mean doing doing more things at once at greater speed (yes?) but that's about it, and technical details I have no idea. What is the registry? No idea. The difference between 64-bit and 32-bit? No idea. Etc.

    If it's of use, I got the free book 'Invent your own games with Python' written for kids, since I know no programming. Obviously the maths etc. in it is for kids but as for loops and what a function is (in computing) it's all new to me. So if you know this book, something starting at that level for an overview would be good.

    In fact, that's one reason why I ask. I don't know how to write a program that can do anything simple to anything on my computer, like a folder or a photo etc. I can only make the little black box (command prompt?) come up with text, take some text in and spit something simple back out. I tried to download some games from the pygame website and all I get is a folder with lots of sub-folders of snippets of code, or text docs, or pictures, and don't know where to go from there.

    So you see I'm not very savvy!

    I use Windows 7 and am not looking to get a job in computing, I just would like to know more about the theory of comptuers and be able to do more - and more interesting - things with my own computer. Would you suggest a book on Windows 7 operating system for example or is this a waste of time?

    Sorry for the long post; I figured some background would help you to avoid pitching something too simple/technical.

    Thanks a lot.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 5, 2013 #2
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