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IT Essentials I v. 3.

Module 1
Information Technology Basics

© 2004, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. 2

Module 1
Information Technology Basics

1.1 - Getting Started in IT

1.2 – Windows Desktop Environment
1.3 – Basic Features of Windows
1.4 – Overview of Software
1.5 – Math for a Digital Age
1.6 – Laboratory Safety and Tools
IT Essentials I v.3.1 - Module 7: Windows
Getting Started in IT
Computer Systems and Programs

• A computer system consists

of hardware and software
• Hardware is the physical
equipment such as the
case, floppy disk drives,
keyboard, monitor, cables,
speakers, and printers.
• Software describes the
programs that are used to
operate the computer
system. Computer software,
also called programs,
instructs the computer on
how to operate.
Computer Systems and Programs

• The two types of software

are operating systems
and applications.
• Application software
accepts input from the user
and then manipulates it to
achieve the output.
• Examples of applications
include word processors,
database programs,
spreadsheets, web
browsers, web
development tools, and
graphic design tools.
Computer Systems and Programs

• An Operating System (OS) is a program

that manages all the other programs in a
computer. It also provides the operating
environment with the applications that are
used to access resources on the computer.

• Examples of operating systems include The

Disk Operating System (DOS), Windows
98, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Linux,
Mac OS X, DEC VMS, and IBM OS/400.
Computer Systems and Programs

• Operating systems are platform-specific.

• The Windows operating system (3.1, 95, 98, 2000, or

NT) is designed for use with a PC.

• The Mac OS will only work with Macintosh


• PC and Macintosh are called platforms. A platform is

the computer system on which programs can run.
Computer Types

• There are two computer

types, Mainframes and
• Mainframes are powerful
machines that allow
companies to automate
manual tasks, shorten the
time to market for new
products, and run financial
models that enhance
profitability, etc.
Computer Types

• The mainframe model consists of centralized

computers. End users interface with the
computers via "dumb terminals". These dumb
terminals are low cost devices that usually
consist of a monitor, keyboard, and a
communication port to talk to the mainframe.
• At its peak in the late 70s and early 80s, the
mainframe market was dominated by IBM and
Digital Equipment Corporation. These high-
powered machines, however, came with high
price tags.
Computer Types

• Advantages of mainframes:
– Scalability, the ability to add more users as the need
– Centralized management, Centralized backup
– Low cost desktop devices (dumb terminals)
– High level of security
• Disadvantages of mainframes:
– Character based applications
– Lack of vendor operating system standards and
interoperability in multi-vendor environments
– Expensive, with a high cost for set up, maintenance, and
initial equipment
– Potential single point of failure (non-fault tolerant
– Timesharing systems, which means that there is a
potential for a bottleneck
Computer Types

• With the Personal Computer (PC), the

Graphical User Interface (GUI) gained wide
introduction to users.

• As PC technology has improved, the power

of the PC has risen to the point that it can
perform enterprise level functions.
Computer Types

• Advantages of PC computing:
– Standardized hardware
– Standardized, highly interoperable
operating systems
– GUI interface
– Low cost devices (when compared to
mainframes), low cost of entry
– Distributed computing
– User flexibility
– High productivity applications
Computer Types

• Disadvantages of PC computing:
– Desktop computers cost, on average, five times
as much as dumb terminals
– No centralized backup
– No centralized management
– Security risks can be greater (physical, data
access, and virus security)
– High management and maintenance costs,
although they are generally cheaper to maintain
than mainframes
Connecting Computer Systems

• A PC is a standalone device, meaning that it

is independent of all other computers.
• Businesses, government offices, and schools
need to exchange information and share
equipment and resources. To do this, a
“networking” was developed to connect
• A network is simply a group of computers that
are connected so that their resources can be
Connecting Computer Systems

• Networks are not limited to

just a building or school
campus. Networks can be
an entire school district or all
of the offices in a company.
• A school, for example, is
connected to a main district
office, as are all the other
schools in a district.
• The Internet is the ultimate
network, connecting millions
of smaller networks.
Connecting Computer Systems

• Most connections are made by cable, but

wireless connections are beginning to gain
popularity. Cable can carry voice, data, or
• Homes may have modems that plug into
telephone jacks. The telephone line carries
voice signals when the telephone is
plugged into the jack, but carries data
signals (encoded to appear as if they were
voice) when the modem is connected.
• Other faster connections to the Internet are
available, such as Digital Subscriber Line
(DSL), cable, and T1, T3, or E1 lines.
The Cost of Technology:
More and More for Less and Less
• The cost of the increasingly
sophisticated technology has fallen.
• For under $1,000 users can buy a
computer system that is capable of
doing much more, and doing it better
and faster than the $500,000
mainframe version of 20 years ago.
• Internet access at speeds equivalent
to T1 is available through Digital
Subscriber Line (DSL) or cable
modem for U.S. $30 to $40 per
month, and prices are falling.
Windows Desktop Environment
Starting, Shutting Down,
and Restarting Microsoft Windows
• Starting a computer is also referred
to as booting the system. A "cold
boot" is performed when the PC is
turned on using the power button.
At the end of this process, a single
beep tone will sound and the
Windows operating system desktop
will be displayed.

• Restarting a PC that has already

been powered up is referred to as
a "warm boot". This can be
achieved by pressing the reset
button on the front panel.
Starting, Shutting Down,
and Restarting Microsoft Windows
• To shut down the
computer, click on the
Start button on the
lower left corner of the
Windows Taskbar and
select Shut Down.
• Or press
Ctrl+Alt+Delete, and
click Shut Down from
the menu that displays.
Starting, Shutting Down,
and Restarting Microsoft Windows
• Do not turn the computer off until a message
displays indicating that it is safe to do so.
Important data that is stored in memory while
the system is running needs to be written to
the hard disk before turning off the computer.

• It is important not to power off the computer

with the power switch. Most operating
systems like Macintosh and Windows have a
specific method for turning the system off.
The Desktop

• The main display

screen in Windows is
known as the desktop.

• The Windows desktop

has remained
consistent for most
versions of Windows
including 95, 98, 98 SE,
Millennium (ME), NT,
and 2000.
The Desktop

• Clicking on the My Computer icon

gives access to all the installed drives.

• My Documents is a shortcut to
personal, or frequently accessed files,
and Network Neighborhood allows the
users to see neighboring computers in
a networked environment.
The Desktop

• Located at the bottom of the

desktop is the taskbar.
• The taskbar contains the Start
button, quick launch buttons,
and the clock.
• The Start button displays the
Start menu. This menu allows
access to virtually every
program and function on the
• Quick launch buttons are
similar to desktop icons as they
are also shortcuts to
Working with Icons

• Icons are shortcuts to

programs or files on the
computer desktop that
improve navigation.
• To create a shortcut (icon),
right-click the program or file
(in Windows Explorer) and
select Create Shortcut.
Explorer can be accessed in
Windows 2000 by choosing
Start > Programs >
Accessories > Windows
Explorer, from the Windows
Working with Icons

• With Windows 9x (95,

98, and Millennium),
choose Start >
Programs > Windows
Explorer from the
menu that displays.
Working with Icons

• To move the created icon or

any desktop icon to another
position on the desktop,
click on it and then drag it to
the desired location.
• The icon becomes semi-
transparent while being
• To restore the icon to full
intensity, click on an empty
part of the desktop.
Working with Icons

• If the icon does not

move, disable the Auto
Arrange function on the
• Right-click on an empty
space of the desktop
and choose Arrange
• Uncheck the Auto
Arrange selection.
Working with Icons

• To select several icons at

once to move, hold down
the Ctrl key and click on
all the icons that are to be
• Drag the group of icons to
the new location and let
go of the mouse button.
• Unselect the icons by
clicking on an empty part
of the desktop.
Working with Icons

• Rename icons and

folders by clicking on
the name once and
then typing in a new
Recognizing an Application Window

• Application windows typically have a title bar,

tool bar, menu bar, status bar, and scroll bar.

• WordPad will be used to demonstrate the

features common to most Windows

• WordPad, or Notepad on some Windows

computers, is a word processing program
located in the Start > Programs >
Accessories directory of a Windows
Recognizing an Application Window

• Title Bar – Displays the

name of the document and
application. In this example,
it is "Document - WordPad".
• Also located in the title bar
are the Minimize, Maximize,
and Exit buttons that will be
discussed in this chapter.
• Menu Bar – Contains
menus for manipulating the
document, such as creating
new documents, copying
text, inserting images, and
so on.
Recognizing an Application Window

• Status Bar – Located at the

bottom of the window, the
status bar shows useful
information, such as page
number, whether the file is
being saved, how to access
the Help feature, etc.
• Scroll Bar – Windows may
have scroll bars that appear
on the right side, the bottom
of the window, or both.
• Clicking on the arrows on
either end of the scroll bar
moves the images or text
through the window.
Resizing a Desktop Window

• Windows that display

applications like WordPad
can have sizes ranging
from very tiny to full
• To resize a window,
move the cursor to any
corner or side of the
application window.
• A double-headed arrow
will appear. Click and
drag on it to change the
window size.

• There are many types of

arrows, pointers, cursors,
and other items, that can be
used to navigate around in
• To modify mouse pointers,
go to My Computer >
Control Panel > Mouse >
Switching Between Windows

• When more than one

window is open, the
user can switch
between windows by
pressing Alt +Tab.
• While holding down the
Alt button, keep
pressing Tab to find the
desired window.
Basic Features of Windows
Viewing a Computer's
Basic System Information

• To view information about

the system, go to the Start
menu and choose
Programs > Accessories
> System Tools >
System Information.
• These steps are similar for
Windows 2000 and
Windows 98/ME.
Viewing a Computer's
Basic System Information

• The window that opens

gives the Operating System
(OS) name and version, the
system manufacturer and
model, the processor type
and manufacturer, the BIOS
version, and the memory.
Viewing a Computer's
Basic System Information
• This information can be
saved as a text file by
selecting Action from
the toolbar and Save
As Text File (When
using Windows 2000).
• Where the file is to be
saved can be specified.
Viewing a Computer's
Basic System Information
• This shows the System
Info.txt file in the directory.
• Double-click on the file
System Info.txt. The
document will open in
Notepad text editor.
Viewing a Computer's
Basic System Information
• The document will open in
Notepad text editor
• The text can then be
copied and pasted into a
word processing program
such as Microsoft Word or
a spreadsheet program
like Microsoft Excel so that
the information is easier to
Setting the Clock and Date

• Double-click on the clock on

the taskbar. A popup window
will display.
• Click on the down arrow next
to month to select the current
• Change the year in the same
manner if needed. To adjust
the date, click on the desired
numerical day of the month.
• Set the clock by entering the
new time in the field and
selecting AM/PM.
Setting the Clock and Date

• Click on the tab labeled Time

• Click the down arrow and
choose the appropriate time
zone. The clock will
automatically adjust itself for
daylight savings changes
• In Windows 98, the display
window to adjust the date and
time properties will be slightly
different from Windows 2000.
Minimizing, Maximizing, and Exiting

• Most applications have three small

icons in the upper right corner of
the screen that are used to
minimize, maximize, or exit the
• By clicking on the Minimize
button, the application is placed on
the taskbar. It is still open and can
be accessed by clicking on it in the
• The Maximize/Restore button,
changes depending on whether
the window being viewed is
opened partially or fully. Click on
this button to make the application
screen smaller or larger.
Adjusting the Screen Display

• To adjust the screen

display, first minimize all
windows that are open.
• Right-click on empty space
on the desktop and choose
Properties to open the
Display Properties
window. Alternatively,
from the Start menu
choose Settings >
Control Panel > Display.
Adjusting the Screen Display

• The Background tab

allows users to choose
what is displayed as
background for the

• Windows default
background is a green
Adjusting the Screen Display

• The Screen Saver tab

permits selecting a screen
saver and when it should
activate on the desktop.
Adjusting the Screen Display

• The Appearance tab has

settings that allow users
to choose the size and
color of text and
backgrounds for
Adjusting the Screen Display

• The Effects tab allows

users to choose visual
effects such as fade
effects, large icons, and
the ability to show contents
while dragging windows.
Adjusting the Screen Display

• The Web tab (not in

Windows 95) has a feature
that allows users to decide
whether or not to show
web content on the active
Desktop Settings

• To adjust the desktop setting,

access the Display Properties
window as explained in the
previous section. In the
Settings tab, adjust the number
of colors and the number of
pixels that will be displayed.
• Pixels are tiny dots that make up
the light on the screen and
determine the intensity of a
screen image.
• Once the color or number of
pixels has been selected, click
Desktop Settings

• Click on OK.
• Choose Yes to reconfigure
the desktop.
• The screen display may go
blank or the desktop
screen may jump around.
• Windows is adjusting the
desktop to match the new
Adjusting Audio Volume

• To access the volume

control, double-click on the
speaker icon on the
• Slide the bars up and
down until the volume level
and other audio settings
are desired.
Start Menu Options:
Accessing More Windows Features

• The Start button is located

on the Windows taskbar in
the lower left hand corner
of the Windows desktop.
• Imbedded in it are several
useful Windows features.
• Clicking on the Start button
will access these options.
Start Menu Options:
Accessing More Windows Features
The Run feature is another method of
starting a program, instead of clicking
the program's shortcut icon on the
desktop or on the list of programs
within the Programs directory.
• Access the Run feature by clicking on
Start and choosing Run.
• This will open a command line entry
space into which the program name
and any parameters that are needed
can be entered as in a DOS prompt
Start Menu Options:
Accessing More Windows Features

• The Help feature provides

tips and instructions on
how to use Windows,
along with an index and
search function so
information can be found
Start Menu Options:
Accessing More Windows Features
• From the Start menu on
the taskbar, select Help.

• Click on the Index tab,

type in the keyword phrase
"formatting disks".

• Click Display. The right

side of the screen will
display instructions on how
to format a disk.
Start Menu Options:
Accessing More Windows Features

• Find/Search
In Windows 95, 98, and Windows NT, Find is used to
locate files, folders, and network connections to other
computers and peripherals. In Windows 2000, Find
has been renamed Search.

• Documents
The Documents menu shows a list of the most recent
documents that have been accessed or created. A
shortcut method for finding documents, it is a
convenient means of going back to a file that has
been used recently. These documents are linked to
the applications that created them, so clicking on the
document will launch the application as well.
Start Menu Options:
Accessing More Windows Features

• Programs
The Programs menu lists all of the programs that are
installed on the computer. To start a program, click
Start > Programs, locate the program to be started,
and then click on it. Shortcut icons on the desktop
can be made for those programs that are used
Recycle Bin

• The Recycle Bin stores

deleted files, folders,
graphics, and web
pages from the hard
• These items can be
undeleted or restored
back to their original
• Items remain there until
they are permanently
deleted from the
Overview of Software Applications
Word Processors

• A word processor is an
application that creates,
edits, stores, and prints
documents. The figure
shows Microsoft Word
2000 as an example of a
word processor.
• All word processors can
insert or delete text,
copy, cut, paste, and
define margins.

• Numerical data is stored in

cells that are arranged on a
• Cells are referred to by their
position in this grid
according to the column
and row they occupy.
• Many spreadsheets have
the ability to plot data in the
form of graphs, bar charts,
and pie charts.
• Examples are Microsoft
Excel and Lotus 1-2-3.

• A database is a collection of data

that is organized so that its
contents can be easily accessed,
managed, and updated.
• Examples are Microsoft Access,
Oracle Database, and FileMaker.
• PC databases fall into two distinct
categories, flat-file and relational.
A flat-file database stores the
information in a single table.
• Relational databases are a
collection of flat-file databases
linked through some particular

• Flat-file databases are two dimensional, while

relational databases have three or more

• Relational databases are the best way to

store large amounts of inter-related data.
Their advantage when compared with flat-file
databases is their ability to handle multiple
relationships with a minimum of duplication of
Graphics Applications

• Graphics applications are

used to create or modify
graphical images.
• The two types include object-
based or vector-based and
bitmaps or raster images.
• The different types of graphic
programs fall into four main
1. Image editing,
2. Illustration
3. Animation
4. 3D graphics
Graphics Applications

• There are several types of

graphic programs. They can
be roughly broken down
into four main categories:
• Image editing – The
industry standard image
editing software is Adobe
• Its vast tool set makes it
possible to manipulate and
create raster (bitmap)
Graphics Applications

• Illustration – The most

popular illustration software
is Adobe Illustrator.
• It has a tool set similar to
Photoshop, yet it creates
vector-based images as
opposed to raster images.
Graphics Applications

• Animation – Animation is the process of creating

sequential images that, when played in a series,
gives the impression of continuous movement.
• The most popular types of animation are frame-by-
frame animation and keyframe animation.
• 3D Graphics – Using a simulated three-dimensional
environment, geometric objects can be created,
textured, painted, and animated.
• This geometry can have real world scale and depth to
assist in the creation of floor plans, model cars, or
even movie specials effects. 
Graphics Applications

Computer-Aided Design (CAD)

CAD software requires high-speed workstations or
desktop computers.

• It is available for generic design or specialized uses

such as architectural, electrical, and mechanical.

• More complex forms of CAD are solid modeling and

parametric modeling, which allows objects to be
created with real-world characteristics.
Presentation Applications

• Presentation applications
permit the organizing,
design, and delivery of
presentations in the form
of slide shows and
reports. Bar charts, pie
charts, graphics, and
other types of images can
be created based on data
that is imported from
spreadsheet applications.
• An example is Microsoft
PowerPoint 2000.
Web Browser and E-mail

• A web browser is an application

that is used to locate and display
pages from the World Wide Web.
• The two most common are
Netscape Navigator and Microsoft
Internet Explorer.
• Electronic mail is the exchange of
computer-stored messages by
network communication.
• Both Netscape and Microsoft
include an e-mail utility with their
web browsers.
Math for a Digital Age
Measurement-Related Terminology

• Bit – The smallest unit of data in

a computer. A bit can take the
value of either one or zero, and it
is the binary format in which data
is processed by computers.
• Byte – A byte is used to describe
the size of a data file, the amount
of space on a disk or other
storage medium, or the amount of
data being sent over a network.
One byte consists of eight bits of
• Nibble – A nibble is half a byte or
four bits.
Measurement-Related Terminology

• Kilobyte (KB) – A kilobyte is 1,024 (or approximately 1,000) bytes.

• Kilobytes per second (KBps) – KBps is the amount of data transferred
over a network connection. KBps is a data transfer rate of approximately
1,000 bytes per second.
• Kilobit (Kb) – A kilobit is 1,024 (or approximately 1,000) bits.
• Kilobits per second (Kbps) – This is the amount of data transferred over
a network connection. Kbps is a data transfer rate of approximately 1,000
bits per second.
• Megabyte (MB) – A megabyte is 1,048,576 bytes (or approximately
1,000,000 bytes).
• Megabytes per second (MBps) – This is the amount of data transferred
over a network connection. MBps is a data transfer rate of approximately
1,000,000 bytes per second.
• Megabits per second (Mbps) – This is the amount of data transferred over
a network connection. Mbps is a data transfer rate of approximately
1,000,000 bits per second.
Measurement-Related Terminology

• Hertz (Hz) – Hertz is a unit of measurement of

frequency. It is the rate of change in the state or cycle
in a sound wave, alternating current, or other cyclical
waveform. Hertz is synonymous with cycles per
second and it is used to describe the speed of a
computer microprocessor.
• Megahertz (MHz) – One million cycles per second.
This is a common measurement of the speed of a
processing chip.
• Gigahertz (GHz) – One billion (1,000,000,000) cycles
per second. This is a common measurement of the
speed of a processing chip.
Analog and Digital Systems

• The world used to depend

entirely on analog
processes, machinery, and
communications for its
• The variables that
characterize an analog
system may have an infinite
number of values.
• Traditional telephones
transmit voice over copper
wire using analog signals.
Analog and Digital Systems

• In digital systems, the

variables that characterize
them only occupy a fixed
number of discrete values.
• Computers and cable
modems are examples of
digital devices. Digital
devices are gradually
replacing analog devices.
• Digital devices make it
easier to do everyday tasks.
Laboratory Safety and Tools
Basic Lab Safety Principles

• The workspace should be

situated away from carpeted
areas because carpets can
cause the build up of
electrostatic charges.
• It should be a nonconductive
• It should be distant from areas of
heavy electrical equipment or
concentrations of electronics.
• It should be free of dust.
• It should have a filtered air
system to reduce dust and
• Lighting should be adequate to
see small details.
Tools of the Trade

• Most computer repair and

maintenance tools used in the
computer workplace are small hand
• They are included as part of PC
toolkits that can be purchased at
computer stores.
• If a technician is working on
laptops, then a small torx
screwdriver is necessary.
• The right tools can save a
technician a lot of time and help the
technician avoid damage to the
equipment. Tool kits range widely in
size, quality and price.
Workspace Cleaning Supplies

• Spray contact cleaner is a

mixture of a solvent and a
• The can usually has a long thin
plastic nozzle inserted into the
head so that it can discharge the
solution in pinpoint fashion.
• Spray contact cleaner is useful
when removing corroded
electrical contacts or loosening
adapter boards with gummy
connection points.
• Do not confuse isopropyl alcohol
with rubbing alcohol.
Workplace Testing Equipment

• A troublesome power source can

cause difficulties for the plugged
in computer system.
• A Fluke 110 Multimeter is used to
test high-voltage devices.
• In addition to the outlet tester and
digital multimeter, wrap plugs
should be part of the standard
equipment kept in the workspace.
• These plugs are also referred to
as loopback plugs, or loopback
Lab Safety Agreement

• The Lab Safety Agreement details the procedures to

be followed when working with computers.
• Since many classroom lab exercises will not use high
voltages, electrical safety may not appear to be
• Do not become complacent about electrical safety.
Electricity can injure or cause death.
• Abide by all electrical safety procedures at all times.