Since computer terminology can often be one of the biggest stumbling blocks to understanding the world of personal computers,I've tried to make things a bit easier by defining new terms at the beginning of the chapter in they first appear

Friday, 20 January 2012


Not too long ago, a computer company ran a series of television commercials in which a personnel interviewer is reviewing a resume composed mainly of achievements in video arcades. After looking it over for a moment, the interviewer addresses the young applicant: “You destroyed one billion aliens from the planet Mongol. You know a lot about computer games. So tell me, what do you know about computers?” The applicant’s face goes blank.What do you know about computers?’‘ may well become business question of the future, and that has caused a lot of interest in the subject of computer literate," has become a kind of  battle cry among many business, government, and education leaders. This is easier said than done, since there is confusion as to exactly what the term computer literacy really means.It has become so overused that ii you were to ask 10 people what they thought it meant you would probably hear10 different answers. The simple fact is that this is no universally accepted understanding of what constitutes computer literacy.Some definitions of computer literacy include:
Spreadsheets—if you can do a spreadsheet you’re literate enough for us
Programming in at least one language, and possibly more being able to turn a system on and do something with it. Having enough knowledge to apply the technology to a job or to solving a problem. To know how to use whatever software you are given Simply being aware of the technology, and understanding how it might be of value to you Knowing the jargon and how it all fits together. According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, “literate” means “able to read and write.” Applying this to computers would mean being able to program. When schools talk about making our children computer literate, this is largely what they have in mind. A recent radio commercial also used the job interview format. The recruiter asked what languages the applicant knew. “French, Spanish, and a little German,” came the response. “What?” the recruiter exclaims, “No COBOL, Fortran, or BASIC?” The emphasis of that advertisement and others like it is that we had all better learn programming if we want to be literate and employable. Do we really want to become a nation of computer programmers, though? Judging from the diversity of opinion as to what constitutes computer literacy, and the limited range of jobs people are performing on personal computers, it will probably not be essential for most people to learn a programming language. This will probably become more evident as software programs become easier to learn and use. Still, many people harbor a fear of competition or obsolescence at the hands of a younger, more computer-literate generation. As they see commercials showing toddlers sitting on their parents’ laps while working on a personal computer, and computer curriculums becoming a part of the educational process from kindergarten through graduate school, many working people are starting to wonder how much they should be learning. How much someone needs to know, will probably depend on what kind of work they do, the availability of software to do it, and their own interest in learning about computers. For most people who have (or will gain) access to personal computers, however, that need will stop short of learning how to program. People also need to understand that they aren’t really competing with those who are still in school. Personal computers are just as new to education as they are to everyone else, and while students are getting a jump on things, many of them are years away from the workplace. Much of what students are learning won’t he readily transferable to their future jobs, either. Once employed, they will have to learn how to work the business applications and wait in line for a personal computer the same as everyone else. As companies invest more of their resources in personal computer technology, they will demand that programs be simplified to accommodate even the least educated of their workers. With the economic force of volume purchasing power behind them, companies will no doubt lead the way towards more user friendly programs. This in turn limits what people will have to learn, and ensures a steady stream of work for programmers.Perhaps the best thing that could be done would be to purge the term computer literacy and substitute a more realistic description that takes into account what people really need to know, such as the following stages of development:

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