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GCSE ICT Revision Notes

Word Processing A word processing package is used to prepare and edit text. Word processors are used to create all types of documents such as letters, reports and essays. Using a word processor you can type, revise and correct a document on the screen before printing it out. The layout of the page can be changed and a wide variety of different styles of text can be used to improve the presentation of a document. Tools such as spelling checkers can help ensure that the contents of a document is accurate Desk Top Publishing Desktop Publishing (DTP) software is used to produce professional-looking documents such as reports, books, posters or leaflets. DTP software gives you more control over the layout of a page than a word processor and lets you easily integrate graphics into your publications. A word processor is not always the best package to use to produce a document. Sometimes you may require more control over the layout of a page or you may wish to include a lot of graphics in a document. If this is the case then a Desktop Publishing (DTP) package would be more suitable. Desktop Publishers are often used to produce newspapers and books. As extra features are added to word processors it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between a word processor and a desktop publisher. Databases A database is a computerised record-keeping system. Databases are used when a large quantity of information has to be stored. A database is very useful because it will provide tools to let the user search through the data that has been stored to find particular pieces of information. The data stored in the database must be organised so that the computer can analyse and search it automatically. Data in a database is usually organised into one or more files storing information relevant to the organisation that has created the database. For example a database keeping information for a doctors surgery. The use of computers for storing and processing information has brought many advantages for organisations that work with data: • Lots more data can be stored in a smaller space than with manual systems. • It is now much quicker to look through lots of data and find information about a particular person or group of people. • Cross-referencing (linking together pieces of information, which are stored separately) is easy.

Databases held by different organisations can be linked together by a computer network. Databases can be accessed from anywhere in the world.

The Data Protection Act It is much easier for people to misuse data stored using a computer system than using a manual system because: • Data can be copied quickly and easily, making it easier to steal information. • Data can be changed without leaving any physical evidence such as crossings out. • Data can be accessed from a remote location e.g. via a network. A data thief does not have to break into a building to steal data. To ensure that their privacy is protected people expect certain rights. The Data Protection Act of 1984 was introduced to give basic rights to people about whom information is stored on a computer. In 1998 this Act was replaced by the Data Protection Act 1998.


The Data Protection Act gives rights to individuals about whom information is stored. Individuals may find out information about themselves, challenge it and claim compensation in certain circumstances. The Act places legal requirements on those who store and use personal data. They must let everyone know about their use of data and follow the data protection principles. Spreadsheets A spreadsheet package is used for performing calculations and drawing charts. The table is divided into a number of boxes called cells. You can type information into each cell. Going across the table are many rows, each of which is identified by a number. Going down the table are many columns, each of which is identified by a letter. Each cell is identified by a unique name called a cell reference. The cell reference is formed by writing down the letter of the column that the cell is in followed by the number of the row that it is in. Groups of joined cells are known as a range. A range can be described by writing down the cell references of the cells at the top left and bottom right corners of the range with a colon to separate them. You can enter three different types of information into a cell. The three types are:

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Numbers: Any number. Labels : Combinations of letters and numbers used as titles or labels to make the sheet clearer.

Formulas: Used to carry out calculations with the numbers that are entered into the sheet. Whenever any numbers are changed the calculations worked out by the formulas will be recalculated Why Use A Spreadsheet?000 There are many reasons why you might want to use a spreadsheet to perform some calculations rather than carry them out by hand. Some good reasons to use a spreadsheet include : 1. If you have to carry out several calculations by hand (or using a calculator) then it is easy to make a mistake. If you use a spreadsheet then, providing you get the formulas right, the computer will not make any calculating mistakes. 2. Information presented using a spreadsheet is usually neater than handwritten calculations. The results of such calculations can be easily graphed with a spreadsheet. 3. Sometimes you have to perform the same calculation on a lot of data (e.g. convert lots of different amounts from one currency to another) or on data that changes frequently. Once you have set up the correct formulas the spreadsheet can use them again and again on different sets if data. 4. Some calculations would be extremely difficult to perform by hand. For example can you imagine the number of calculations that would have to be performed to predict the effect of a rise in interest rates of 0.25% on the economy. If a spreadsheet model is set up then you can simply change the interest rate and it will automatically perform all the calculations to show you the predicted effect. Data Logging Computers are often used by companies and scientists to automatically measure and record changes in conditions such as: • The temperature of a furnace. • The speed at which an object is travelling. • The amount of light in a room. • The amount of oxygen in a river. • The level of noise being made by aircraft flying over a town.


When a computer is used to automatically collect and record data as it is produced we say that the computer is being used for data logging. A data logging system consists of sensors connected via an interface to a computer and some data logging software Control A computer control system is a computerised system designed to control a process. Control systems use sensors such as temperature sensors and pressure pads to monitor physical quantities. Using software the control system will carry out actions based on the quantities it has measured. These actions might include turning on devices such as a light or pump or sounding a buzzer. Here are some example control systems: Traffic Lights The computer controls the sequences of lights displayed at a cross-roads to ensure that cars do not crash. Additionally the computer operates a pedestrian crossing to let pedestrians cross the road when a button is pressed. The computer controls the temperature in a greenhouse to maintain the conditions required for the plants in it to grow. If the temperature gets too cold then the computer turns on a heater to keep the plants warm. The computer controls the movement of a robot arm which sprays parts of a car body. The arm must only spray when the body part is present and must then follow a programmed spraying path. The arm must stop if any foreign object, such as a human being, gets in its way

Simple Greenhouse

Robot Arm

Security Data security is the application of safeguards to protect data from accidental or malicious modification, destruction or disclosure. There are four main threats to the safety of data. These are: • Accidental Damage • Data Theft • Hacking • Computer Viruses Back Up No-one likes losing data that they have entered into a computer. Lost data represents a waste of time and effort. For companies the loss of data can be especially serious. Many companies store essential information such as customer accounts or stock databases on computer. Loss or corruption of this information could cost a company a lot of money. If data is very important then appropriate security measures should be put in place to try and avoid any data loss or corruption. Therefore extra copies of important data should be made on a regular basis. These copies are known as backups. If the original files become corrupt then the data can be restored from a backup copy. The process of creating a backup is often known as archiving and the stored backup files are known as an archive. A company should have a backup strategy which sets out how backups will be made.


Hacking The Computer Misuse Act (1990) makes the misuse of a computer a criminal offence. The law was introduced in 1990. Throughout the previous decade the growth in the use of computers had made new crimes possible which existing laws did not deal with. The Act is essentially an anti-hacking law. Hacking is attempting to gain unauthorised access to a computer system and a hacker is a person who does this. The Act applies to employees of a company who commit these offences from within the company as well as hackers who access computer systems remotely. Many hackers attempt to gain unauthorised access to a computer system simply to demonstrate that they are clever enough to do this. Others may have more sinister intentions such as: • Stealing confidential data which might be useful to a rival company. • Changing information stored on a computer system to benefit the hacker. • Destroying data stored in a computer system Making hacking illegal will not stop people from doing it. Therefore sensible companies do not rely on this Act to stop people misusing their computer systems. They incorporate appropriate security measures into their computer systems and keep regular backups. Most companies will also include a clause relating to the unauthorised use of computer systems in an employee's contract of employment. Any unauthorised use of a computer by an employee would probably lead to dismissal. Viruses A virus is a special kind of computer program which (usually) has these three features:

The virus tries to hide itself so the user can not detect and delete it. There is nothing mysterious about a virus. A virus is simply a program that someone has written. Social Issues The widespread use of computers together with changes in communications technologies have significantly changed many people’s lives. Indeed, the impact of the computer on society is so great that the current increasing use of computers is often referred to as the "Information Revolution". It is likened in the scope of its impact to the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries which completely changed the structure of industry and society. Here just a few of the most significant issues are discussed. • Impact on Lifestyles • Impact on Employment • Impact on the Environment Lifestyles Use of Leisure Time Cheap personal computers are now owned by many households. People, especially children, spend a lot of time using their computers. The more time children spend playing on their computers the less time they have for more social activities and the less exercise they get. There is some concern about how this affects their ability to interact with other people. However it is also argued that computers can help children with less well developed socialising skills to learn to interact better with other people. Such children often find it easier to communicate with other people via a computer than in person. Communication via computers acts as a stepping stone towards normal communication. Some groups are also concerned that violent computer games can affect the behaviour of some children. Increasing automation of industrial production systems, together with the availability of many services such as shopping and banking via the Internet are partly responsible for the fact that in most Western countries people have more leisure time than in the past.

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The virus can make copies of itself without the user knowing it is doing this. The virus does something annoying or destructive.


Communications and Availability of Information Improvements in communication technologies have reduced the cost of sending information around the world: • International telephone calls are now significantly cheaper, enabling everyone to keep in touch with friends and business contacts around the world. • Satellite broadcasting technology means you can view pictures of events thousands of miles away as they happen The growth of the Internet has provided a new interactive channel through which information can enter and leave peoples homes. The World Wide Web enables a rich variety of information including text, sound and video to be viewed. Using a credit card it is possible to shop and buy services with your computer. Because no one has control over the information placed on the Internet it has become effectively impossible for governments to censor the information that is available. There is no way in which the UK government can control the content of web servers in other countries, especially less developed countries. This places an extra burden on the users of such services. Parents have a responsibility to ensure that their children only access suitable material and all users have to view information obtained from the Internet with caution. Employment The introduction of information technology into many workplaces has caused unemployment. The area most affected has been manufacturing industry (e.g. car production) where human production lines have been replaced by robots and control technology. To a lesser extent office workers have been affected by the introduction of information processing systems. However it can be argued that many of the manufacturing jobs that have been lost as a result of the introduction of computer technology would have been lost anyway. Most of the lost jobs were lowskilled jobs which would otherwise have been transferred to poorer countries where less well educated workers would perform the work for less money. The impact of information technology is now also being felt in the retail sector as many services are being offered for sale over the Internet. Banks and financial institutions are closing branches throughout the country and providing on-line and telephone banking systems instead. Many other products which are suitable for posting can be purchased over the Internet and supermarkets are trialling home shopping and delivery services. This has resulted in a change in the type of work that people employed by many companies have to do, and a need for workers to retrain to use modern technology. This has been particularly difficult for older workers who have had little previous experience of computer equipment. Cheap communications and applications such as electronic mail have made it possible for some people to work from home. This sounds like a good idea as parents can spend more time with their families, but a lot of so-called "teleworkers" find that they actually work longer hours now that they work from home. The computer industry has also created jobs. Some careers, such as programming and systems analysis have been created directly. Further employment has been created indirectly. Technology based jobs tend to be well paid, and well paid workers have more money to spend in their leisure time, creating employment in the leisure industry


Environment The widespread use of computers has produced a rise in the amount of electricity being used. This will increase the amount of damage done to the environment through power generation at conventional or nuclear power stations. The computer has, however, had a positive impact on some aspects on the environment. If people are able to tele-work form home then less people will need to travel to work so there will be less environmental damage caused by transportation. The Internet and improved telecommunications may also have positive environmental effects. People are able to obtain information without having to travel from their homes, and the use of electronic mail and the World Wide Web to distribute information could reduce the amount of paper used, hence saving trees. Advanced data logging systems operated from satellites and other locations enable the collection of important environmental data which can be used to assess the state of the environment. Systems Life Cycle 1. The systems lifecycle is the set of stages that are followed when an information system is developed. 2. There are five stages in the systems lifecycle: Analysis Analysis is the process of deciding what (if anything) an information system should do Design is the process of deciding how you will set up your information system using the software packages you choose Implementation is using appropriate software packages to create the system you have designed. Testing is trying out your system to see if it works properly or not Evaluation is reviewing your work to see if you have achieved the goals that you set out in the analysis.



Testing Evaluation