BOOTING YOUR COMPUTER AND POST
How Your Computer Boots In a cold boot, the computer system runs a series of programs that includes a self-testing process called POST (power-on self test). This test verifies that certain hardware components are operational. Next, the computer searches for the operating system programs, which are typically stored on the computer's internal hard disk. Once located, select operating system files are copied into the computer's memory. Some of these files are called the kernel of the operating system and include programs that perform basic operations such as assigning computer resources and starting application programs. The kernel is memory resident, which means that it remains in memory as long as the computer is on. Finally, the operating system displays the user interface on the monitor.
How Browsers Work A browser helps you open and transfer files, display text and images, and provide in one tool an uncomplicated interface to the Internet and Web documents. Four well-known browsers are Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Google Chrome. For a browser to connect to resources on the Web, the location or address must be specified. These addresses are called uniform resource locators or URL's (see figure 1). Once connected to a Web site, an HTML file is sent back to your computer which your browser interprets and displays as a Web page (see figure 1). This page presents information about the site as well as references and hypertext links or links (see figure 1) that connect to other documents containing related information.
PERSONAL WEB SITES
How Personal Websites Work A service site on the Web provides access to tools to create personal Web pages. After registering with the site, you create your Web pages using the tools provided. Once completed, the service site acts as a host for your personal Web site and others are free to visit it from anywhere in the world.
HOW BLOGGING WORKS
Blogs have become a popular way to create a personal Web site. A blog is a Web page with dated postings like a bulletin board. Many individuals create blogs to keep in touch with friends and family. Others create blogs that focus on information about a hobby or a theme, such as knitting, electronic devices, or good books. Although most are written by individual bloggers, there are also group blogs with multiple contributors. Several sites provide tools to create blogs such as Blogger and WordPress. A microblog publishes short sentences that only take a few seconds to write, rather than long stories or posts like a traditional blog. The most popular microblogging site, Twitter, enables you to add new content from your browser or mobile phone.
DIGITAL VIDEO EDITING PROGRAMS
How Digital Video Editing Programs Work Digital video editing programs assist in the organization and editing of home videos and other types of video clips. This process typically involves three steps. Input. Captured video and audio files are sent to the system unit for processing. Editing. The files are subdivided into a series of clips or scenes that can be merged to form a new file and special effects such as title screens and animations can be added. Output. The edited video is stored on hard disks or on optical disks for later viewing or additional editing.
How File Compression Works File compression reduces the size of files making them more efficient to store and to transport across the Internet. There are two types of file compression: lossy and lossless. With lossy file compression some of the data in a file is discarded. This type of compression is typically used with pictures and music files. For example, in an image file, data elements that record subtle color changes or shading may be eliminated without seriously degrading the image. Lossless file compression does not discard any data. This approach looks for repeated patterns in the data and creates a table of the repeated patterns. The repeating patterns in the uncompressed file are replaced in the compressed file with a pointer to the appropriate location in the table. You may have received compressed files in an email attachment or downloaded them from the Internet. Frequently, these files have a .zip file extension and are called zip files. Before you can use the files, they must be decompressed or unzipped. Some files can be decompressed by simply clicking on them and others require special compression/decompression utilities such as WinZip or PKZip. Lossy discards some data. Lossless uses repeated patterns. WinZip, IZArc, and 7-zip are file compression/decompression utilities.
How Internet Telephony Works Internet telephony is the transmission of telephone calls over computer networks. One of the most common applications involves computer-to-traditional telephone communications. This process uses a special Internet phone service provider and typically involves four steps. Request. Using the software provided by the Internet phone service provider, the caller enters a telephone number and requests a connection. Relay. The request is relayed to the provider's Internet server that is located closest to the requested number. Connect. Using traditional local telephone communication lines, the server connects to the requested telephone. Talk. The requested telephone rings, the party answers, and communication begins using the local telephone communication line and the Internet.
DIGITAL SPEECH RECOGNITION
How Digital Speech Recognition Programs Work Speech recognition programs accept and interpret spoken commands to insert text and issue program commands. This process typically involves four steps. Training. The user trains the speech recognition program to recognize his speech patterns. Input. Using a microphone, the user issues verbal commands or dictate text. Analysis. The audio signals from the microphone are digitized so that the system unit can process the information. Action. The interpreted word or phrase is then implemented.
How Virtual Memory Works Virtual memory expands the capability of a computer system to run programs that exceeds the system’s memory capacity. This process typically involves three steps. Request. The system unit receives a request to run a program that requires more RAM than is available. Store. The operating system recognizes the problem, divides the program into parts, and stores the parts on the hard disk. Execute. The first part of the program is read into RAM and the program begins to execute. As the program executes, the other parts are moved back and forth between RAM and the hard disk as needed.
What Is Identity Theft? Identity theft is a growing problem, and can be financially devastating if you are a victim. Here are some steps to protect your identity. Never give personal information on the Internet or in response to an e-mail. One common scam known as phishing involves e-mail that has been forged to appear to come from your bank or school. Only do business on the Internet with companies you know to be legitimate, or large companies with a solid reputation. When selling a computer, be sure to completely remove all personal information from the hard drive. Many programs are available to ensure data is completely removed. Check your credit reports from the three major bureaus for unusual activity or inaccuracy at least once a year.
RANDOM ACCESS MEMORY (RAM)
What Is RAM? Random-access memory (RAM) chips hold the program and data that the CPU is presently processing. RAM is called temporary or volatile storage because everything in most types of RAM is lost as soon as the microcomputer is turned off. It is also lost if there is a power failure or other disruption of the electric current going to the microcomputer. Cache (pronounced “cash”) memory improves processing by acting as a temporary high-speed holding area between the memory and the CPU. The computer detects which information in RAM is most frequently used and then copies that information into the cache. When needed, the CPU can quickly access the information from the cache. Having enough RAM is important! Some applications, such as photo editing software, may require additional RAM. Fortunately, it can be easily added to a computer system by inserting an expansion module called a DIMM (dual in-line memory module) into the system board. The capacity or amount of RAM is expressed in bytes. Other types of RAM include DRAM, SDRAM, DDR, and Direct RDRAM. Even if your computer does not have enough RAM to hold a program, it might be able to run the program using virtual memory. Most of today’s operating systems support virtual memory. With virtual memory, large programs are divided into parts and the parts are stored on a secondary device, usually a hard disk. Each part is then read into RAM only when needed. In this way, computer systems are able to run very large programs.
How Streaming Media Works Downloading a file transfers the entire contents to your computer. Streaming a file transfers packets that are stored temporarily in a buffer. Almost all information sent over the Internet is contained in files. For example, when your browser connects to a Web site, the site sends a document file back to your computer. Once the entire file has been received, your browser interprets the file and displays a Web page. This process works very well for small files because the time required to deliver the file over the Internet is short. It does not work as well for large media files such as audio and video files. There are two basic ways in which file content is delivered via the Internet to your computer: downloading and streaming. Downloading a file transfers the entire contents of the file to your computer. After the file has been downloaded, it can be used. For example, to download an MP3 music file, you right click on the link, choose Save as, and specify the location on your computer to save the file. Downloading a file can take a few minutes or in the case of video files it can take hours. Once the file has been stored onto your computer, you can play the music or the video Streaming a file does not transfer the entire contents of the file to your computer. Rather, the file is broken down into parts or data packets. These data packets are temporarily stored in a buffer or special part of your computer's RAM. Once the buffer has received several packets, these packets can be used at the same time more data packets are being received. For example, a streaming MP3 music file can be listened to at the same time it is being downloaded. A streaming audio or video file can begin playing within seconds and continue to play until the entire contents have been delivered.