Or How to Understand Tech Talk
The easiest way for people to be taken advantage of is for the tech to speak over their head and overcomplicate things. This little guide should give you a beginner’s list of term. You should become familiar with these terms as a way to convey issues with your computer, and so you can better understand conversations about your computer. There are a couple of pictures to help you better understand what I am describing.
Operating System: The software that allows you to use your computer easily. Sometimes called a GUI (Graphic User Interface.) It uses graphics and animations for you to interact with your computer. The two most common OS systems on the market are Windows and OSX (OS TEN.)
Hard Drive (HDD): This is the storage capacity of your computer. This is the home of your Operating System (OS), and all of your files
This is a picture of a typical hard drive. Note the labels. They are not necessary to know at the moment, but they do give you a good concept of how it works. We will cover this more in depth, later.
Memory/RAM: Short for Random Access Memory – This is how fast your computer can access things and do tasks. For car enthusiasts, a good analogy would be the HorsePower of your computer.
A set of typical desktop RAM Chips
Processor/CPU Chip: The processor does all the heavy lifting and multitasking. The higher the number of cores, the more it can do at once. Can also be seen as the brain of the computer. To carry the car analogy further, it would be the torque, or off the line power.
Core: Seen with processor designations, the core is the brain of the computer. For example, if you have a dual core processor, the computer has two brains and splits the heavy lifting between the two
Graphics Card/GPU: With computer gaming coming back to the forefront, this can be a very important factor. A Graphics Processing Unit(GPU) is a processor for the graphics card. Graphics cards also carry their own RAM, and that is how they are measured. Most modern systems will allow any memory not used by the graphics card at the moment to be used by the computer, speeding up your system, if even by a small amount.
Motherboard/Logic Board: If the CPU is the brains, then the Motherboard is the circulatory system and skeleton. The motherboard controls everything on the computer. That is where all the components are plugged in to make the computer work. The motherboard is usually a printed circuit board with plugin spots for the components, and jumper settings for the items. If you are a novice, DO NOT touch any jumper settings, unless specifically told to do so in instructions.
USB Port: USB stands for Universal Serial Bus. It is a technology that allows certain ports of your computer to send information to and from the computer, as well as supply a small amount of power to the item that is plugged into it. Most used applications of USB ports are for keyboards and mice, but many people also use them to plug in a jump drive, or external hard drive.
USB Ports on a Computer. Note the symbol next to them. This is a universal symbol,
and will be found on most computers regardless of the manufacturer.
Jump Drive/Thumb Drive: This is a small device used for external storage of data, or to speed up your system. The terms thumb drive and jump drive are relatively interchangeable. Technology has advanced so much on the storage abilities of thumb drives, that is is now possible to keep an entire OS on your thumb drive.
Web Browser: Software that allows you to “surf the Internet.” There are many different browser choices for people, and they all have their pro’s and con’s. I would encourage you to do your own research to determine which browser is right for you. Microsoft systems come with Internet Explorer, and Mac systems come with Safari.
The icons for Safari and Internet Explorer. Copyright, Apple, Inc. and Microsoft, Inc.
Network Card/Ethernet Port: This is the port that your network cable plugs in to. It is attached on the inside to a card that is plugged in to the mother board. When a cable is plugged in to the network port, and there is a good connection with the computer on, a small light will go green. If there is not a good connection, or the computer is off, the light will be amber
The Ethernet Port of a notebook computer
There are many other terms we will be using to cover computers, but this is a good starting point. Feel free to bookmark this (ctrl-d) as a reference tool.