Common technology questions and basic computer concepts

Common questions and basic computer concepts for the home userIn this section we are covering common questions and basic computer concepts from the perspective of a typical home user. The first question is obviously, "What computer should I buy?"

Anyone who answers your question "What computer should I buy?" without first asking a few questions back, does not understand the question.

How much computer do you need?

Too often people set out shopping for a computer without first making a list of what they expect the computer to do for them. This is the most common reason for unfulfilled expectations when it comes to technology.

Technology is ever changing, at a very rapid pace. Depending on your level of technical knowledge, expectations of what technology can do will vary widely. Even those who have been around technology for years will sometime make the most common of errors by buying individual devices, without planning how they fit into the total picture. In business today you hear a lot about the thirty thousand foot view. It's all about looking at the total picture, rather than any one thing.

Never lose sight of the fact that technology is just a tool. The finest tools do not turn a novice craftsman into a master. Your financial adviser will tell you the importance of sound financial planning, so if so if you view a computer as a tool to automate your life, it makes sense to plan your technology purchases. Planning involves some work, but all you need to get started is a pencil and paper.

Starting on a piece of paper, write down your thoughts on a few basic questions. What is in it for me, what benefits do you expect from the system? If you could have anything, what would it be? What would you like to have available to you?

What brand to buy? And where do you buy it?

If you think of a computer as a tool, to organize your life, or increase your productivity, then where you buy your computer should be more of an ongoing relationship, rather than a one time occurrence.

The best analogy I ever heard on defining value: if you knew you had to jump out of a plane, where would you buy a parachute? Someone who'd been in the business for awhile might be able to help. I know I'd try to find a place that specialized in parachutes. I know I wouldn't trust buying it from the Cheapo-mart.

Speaking strictly from the viewpoint of Windows computers, I stick with the major name brands like HP and Lenovo. If you sign up for their mailing list on the HP and Lenovo websites they will bombard you with sales, but often have very good deals.

I stay away from the no-name brands, and the low end stuff. I have years of experience on how the cheap stuff doesn't hold up.

Where do you go from here?

In this section we are covering concepts from the perspective of a typical home user. In addressing the question what computer should you buy the topic that enters into the mix is which operating system is the best, so next up we will tackle the question of "what is the best desktop computer operating system?"  If you feel ready to try out the Linux operating system, we will also discuss the various flavors of Linux, and why there are so many different distributions.

On computer basics we will go over the definitions of a computer system hardware and look at the cables and connections you will need for your home network.   If you want to learn more, the sections that follow will go into desktop computer troubleshooting and computer networking concepts.

The section on basic network concepts and the OSI model explained in simple terms is a bit beyond what the average home computer needs to know. This section will be helpful for someone learning computer network and looking at some basic certifications as a network technician.

Many of the articles written for this website were written many years ago for various classes I taught at local community colleges. I periodically go through the site changing things based on common questions I see being asked on online foruns. While this site gets revised from time to time, we purposely try not put anything in here which would age quickly such as current events topics. Many of the basic technology concepts do not age over time as much as you would guess.

If you are not sure what is the best technology choice for you, and you need some ideas, or if you want to keep up to date on hot topics in technology, check out the Guru 42 small business and technology blog where we share our views and comments on the technology news of the day.