Archive for July, 2009

What Does OS Mean

what is an operating system

In this article I'm going to help you finally make sense of what for most people is one of the most confusing and least understood computer terms around: "operating system", or "OS".

Maybe you’ve found yourself with questions and wonder what OS means,, if so, you’re not alone in asking these questions.

This actually is a fairly simple idea to get when you have it explained the right way, as you'll find by the time you finish reading this computer dictionary article.

First, an OS or operating system, is a type of software.

If you aren't sure what I mean by software, let me explain:

"Software" refers to all of the parts of the computer that you really can't see or handle directly. Software would include things like Microsoft Excel, an email program like Outlook, Windows or the Mac OS, plus all of your own files like specific emails, photos, MP3s, etc.

Here's another way to think about it: hardware is like your brain, a physical part of your body, while software is like your mind or your thoughts -- the non-physical part of yourself.

Software runs on hardware, just like your thoughts "run on" your brain.

Are you getting the idea now? So let's talk about the operating system specifically.

So, let me give a couple of examples:  the two best known OS right now are Windows, and Mac OS X (pronounced "Oh Ess Ten" -- as in the Roman numeral ten).

Windows XP and Windows Vista are a couple versions of Microsoft Windows.  While Mac OS 10.4 (often called "Tiger") and the newer Mac OS 10.5 (a.k.a "Leopard") are a couple different versions of Mac OS X.

OK, so what is an OS?

Think of it this way: when a person is born, they have the instinct to eat, to breathe, and so on, and also the instinct to watch, listen, and absorb everything going on around them.

as the years go by, a young child learns to talk and walk by watching others, and as they get older, they also learn more basic skills like reading and writing, hand-eye coordination, etc.

So in other words, they gradually transition from being able to do not a lot except eat, sleep, and fill diapers, to physical and mental maturity where they have all the basic skills they need to go on to more specialized skills like learning to drive, playing a sport like football, writing a paper for a class, working a job -- you get the idea.

In a lot of ways, when you boot up your PC, it's just like a newborn baby, only having a few basic "instincts."

The computer has the ability to power on, and show a picture on the monitor, but not a lot more.

The only other thing it can do is check the hard drive, and if it finds an OS there, the computer knows to start running the OS.

This is called "booting", which is what happens between when you turn the computer on, and when you can actually start using it.

So in other words, it's just like when a child is born and grows up: the operating system has the "life experiences" and lessons that give a "child" all the basic skills like walking, talking, reading, writing, etc., that allow everything else to hapen.

So it's kind oflike your PC is "born" and "grows up" in the space of 30 seconds to a minute or so (sometimes longer for some computers) that it takes to "boot" the operating system.

In other words, the OS is like those underlying skills we all have and learned as we grew up. More precisely, it's the software on the computer that creates the desktop, the icons on it, moves the little mouse pointer around on the screen when you move your mouse around,lets you work with files, lets you type, etc..

Without the operating system, you couldn't do anything with your computer but push the power button and see an error message like "non system disk or disk error" on a Microsoft Windows computer, or a flashing question mark on one of Apple's Macintosh PCs.

So even though lots of people don't really understand what an OS is, or what it's for, no-one could use a computer without it.

Finally get it?

Posted by stevenlocke - July 27, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Categories: Technology   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Going to Town to Shop

Since we live in a small town, sometimes it is hard to find the things you need at a reasonable price.  Considering that 10lbs of potatoes costs ten dollars, there are just some things that are better bought in the city.

A good example is anything that is technology related like computers, iphone accessories, and printer ink.  If you are lucky enough to find the item that you want to buy, chances are it will almost be twice the price of the city, which isn’t a good deal at all.

So, I am heading out today to go buy some stuff for the business and maybe something for my iPhone.  It will be nice to get out of the house for a change.


Posted by Melissa Jones - July 27, 2009 at 9:53 am

Categories: Shopping   Tags:

Five Nights in Vegas

One of my biggest complaints since we have had children is the lack of time my wife and I have had to spend together.  It seems that it has been years since we have taken a vacation together without the kids, but that is going to change shortly.

In fact, we found some great deals on Vegas vacations and have booked one just for the two of us.  Though it is still going to be a few months before we get to go, I just can’t wait to spend some time with my wife alone – it will be like the days when we first started dating.


Posted by Melissa Jones - July 26, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Categories: Travel   Tags:

Securing our Home Network

After one of our computers was hacked into after it was just hooked up to the high speed modem, our computer repair guy suggested that we buy a Linksys router to better protect our computers at home.  I had thought that the ISP had provided everything that we needed to keep our network secure, but I guess I was wrong.

As it turns out, they don’t really give you anything you need to ensure that your computers are safe, and at least now I know what I need.  I feel much better knowing that we shouldn’t have any issues now with a hacker thanks to the firewall in our router.


Posted by Melissa Jones - July 25, 2009 at 11:31 pm

Categories: Computers   Tags:

Defining the Computer Term ‘Driver’

drivers definition

A lot of people don't understand the computer term 'driver', which is understandable because it's usually not explained well. Understanding the computer term 'driver' can be easy when it's explained the right way. Maybe as a result you’ve done online searches for things like: “define drivers”, or something similar and wished for answers that made sense.

Of course, that's not a criticism -- if you've always been baffled by this term, it's only because it was never explained to you the right way before.

Keep reading and you'll be surprised how much sense it makes.

I have a simple way to explain it that will just make sense for you. This article can act as an entry in your own internal computer dictionary, if you will.

First off, just to make sure we all we're all on the same page, let me quickly describe the difference between "hardware" and "software".

It's actually pretty simple : "hardware" refers to all of the tangible pieces of equipment, such as your mouse, your display, the hard drive, etc.

"Software" refers to all of the pieces of the computer that you can't really observe or handle directly. Software would include things like a word processor, an email program like Outlook, Windows or the Mac OS, and all of your own files like specific emails, photos, songs, and so on.

One way to think about it is like this: hardware is like your brain, a physical part of your body, while software is like your mind or your thoughts -- the non-physical part of yourself.

Software runs on hardware, just like your thoughts "run on" your brain.

With me so far? Now let's talk more specifically about drivers.

Here's the easy way to grasp what a driver is. Pretend every piece of hardware, including your printer, your mouse, and so on, speaks a different language.

So one speaks French, another one speaks Italian, a different one Japanese, etc.

So when you plug in a new printer and power it on, your computer says hi and the printer answers in a foreign tongue the computer doesn't understand.

So it needs an interpreter.

And when I say interpreter, I mean just like in the real world, just like when a foreign diplomat arrives in the country but doesn't speak the local language. They need an interpreter to help them communicate with the locals.

That, basically put, is what a driver is -- an interpreter that helps your computer talk to a particular piece of equipment. And (generally speaking) you need a different interpreter for all of the equipment that you attach the computer.

Make sense?

Now sometimes, the driver may be "preinstalled" on your computer (in other words, the computer already has the interpreter ready and waiting in case it's needed) and other times, it needs to either be installed from a CD, or gotten from the Internet, and then put into the computer.

But either way, the computer needs that driver before it can talk to the printer or whatever other thing you may have connected to your computer.

Hope that makes sense.

Posted by stevenlocke - July 25, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Categories: Technology   Tags: , , , , ,

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