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Set Up a Computer
and Peripherals

You've just bought a computer - and the salesman told you that you needed all these extra items to go with it. Or perhaps they put the whole works together in one box. But now you are home, alone perhaps, and you want to get things hooked up and running smoothly. You have so many things you want to do on your computer.

Computer peripherals are devices which provide input and ouput for a computer system. How to set up a computer and peripherals is our lesson for today.

What are the basic parts of a computer system's hardware? You need a computer with all the electronic stuff in it, a monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse. If you like to print out things, you will need to atach a printer. Some of those units can do scanning, photocopying, and faxing too. You might prefer a separate scanner.

On the other hand, you may have been scrounging garage sales for enough pieces to put together a computer set. If you are really new at this, you need a simple guide for connecting all the parts together. (Yes, laptops have most it all together in one piece of hardware).

Extras that some people look for now, are things like a joystick for games, an external modem, an external hard drive, backup devices, USB sticks, memory cards from things like digital cameras, and so on. Don't look to add all those things at once. Just take one thing at a time, and soon you will have all you can handle.

Computer - that heavy box thing is the computer. If it is a lower, flatbox shape, it is a desktop and should lie on it's side on your computer desk. If it is the taller, upright kind, you can put it on the floor under your desk - hopefully where you will not be kicking it with your feet, even accidentally.

Monitor - That's the part with the screen. You put that on top of the desktop or just on your desk, and you find the cables that go with it. One goes into a power bar or surge protector, the other end into the monitor. This applies to both the older CRT unit or the new flatscreen monitor. The other cable has to connect from the monitor to the back of the computer box. Look for the special connector at the back of the computer box which matches the plug from the monitor. It will have long-handled screws you have to turn in to make it a secure connection.

Power Cables - These electrical cords have a three prong connector for the power par, and sort of a reverse 3 prong holes in the other end. That goes into the back of the computer where there is a hole with three prongs. You may find one for the computer and one for the monitor.

Keyboard - You might have a cordless, wireless keyboard now-a-days. If you have an older set of hardware you will have a cable attached to the keyboard and it needs to be plugged into a specific hole in the back of the computer. In recent years they have been color-coded so you can find the right one quickly.

Mouse - this is the device that you move around to control a cursor on the screen. By pointing and clicking, it allows you to interact with the computer and to make choices and to decide at what spot you want to start typing text. These are often wireless now too, but the older models will have a cable that connects to a hole right beside the one for the keyboard. It is possible to make all your moves and entries via the keyboard, but most of us have got so used to the mouse that we think we cannot get along without it. (I used my first computer a DOS 286 with a keyboard only, no mouse).

Printer - if you already have a printer you will want to hook it up too. Is it the older kind? then it may have a parallel port plug at the end of the cable to go into the computer box. If it has a USB cable, then you would find the small rectangular hole. Newer computers have several of those, some in the front and some in back of the computer box. Another cable has to connect to your power bar or surge protector. It will likely come with a CD with which you tell the computer what kind of printer it is, and how it is to work with it. (Those CDs do us no good if our operating system is a linux distribution, but we'll get into how to get around that another time).

Modem - perhaps there is no high speed available in your area, or you may just prefer dial-up connection to the internet. If that is the case, you may find the modem built into your computer is sufficient (on a Windows operating system), or you want to use an external modem. In the latter case, you will need to plug the modem into the back of the computer with a special serial port plug. It will need a thinner cable with an adapter at the other end to plug into the powerbar or surge protector. That adapter looks like a small heavy black box. Futhermore, you will need a telephone line to plug into the back of the modem and into your phone jack. (Internal modems need that phone line too to be connected).

Ethernet - if you have access to high speed and want to use that to connect to the internet, you will need a special cable to go from the router to the back of your computer box. It should plug into the hole that is similar but a bit larger than the phone line socket.

There. Now you have it all hooked together. Time to turn on the power.

Press the button on the monitor to turn it on first. I have read that it makes the monitor last longer, if it gets the first surge of power before the computer does. Then I just reach next for the power button on the front of the computer box. Brummmm!! Things start to hum.

Assuming you have an operating system already installed on the computer, you should see things loading and appearing on the screen. When the activity stops - in about a minute - you are ready to go to work! It happens that Microsoft has made a deal long ago with pretty well all the manufacturers of computer hardware that they should automatically install Windows operating system on them. So when you buy a new computer, it is most likely to have a Windows XP or Windows Vista system on it.

- However, you do not have to stay with that. There are other, better operating systems out there. They have been increasing and improving tremendously in a ground-swell of growth. But that secret is getting out. A Linux operating system, and there are about 356 kinds of them - is much more secure against viruses, and other problems. We will go into how to install your own choice of operating system next time.

Computer Skills Lessons

Your Computer's Hardware and Components

Set Up a Computer and Peripherals

Installing a Linux Operating System

Keyboarding Skills and Tips

Computer Troubleshooting

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