Background

Computers are coldly logical. They work based on two things: What they are programmed to do - this is what the software (programs) and the hardware (the parts of the machine) are made to do, and what you tell it to do.

Many people get frustrated with a computer because they think it is not doing what they tell it to. Generally it is doing just what it was told to do, but the user does not understand precisely how to tell the computer to do the task the way they want it done. So, actually, the user is frustrated because the computer isn't doing what they think they are telling it to do. This happens to everybody. Swearing does no good, the computer just goes blythly on ignoring anything it is not programmed to pay attention to (besides, it is completely unaware that it is causing any problem at all).

So, when you are using a computer, remember three things:

1. You must select an object you wish to change, before you try to tell the computer how to change it. If you are typing a letter and you want a word to be bold, you must select the word first, then tell the computer to make it bold. It will not work the other way around. This rule applies to almost everything you do on the computer.

2. Pay attention to little differences in the way you do things. If your computer does not seem to be behaving you need to try it a little differently...either in where you put the cursor, how you click the mouse, or the order in which you are trying to do things. The computer can't guess what you really wanted to do if you are a little off. It is very precise, which is a good thing when you understand how it is precise, but frustrating if you do not know the differences.

3. The computer has a language all its own. Menu choices, icon names, instructions or error messages all use this peculiar language. What you think the computer is telling you that you can or should do may not be exactly what it is actually telling you. Sometimes an interpreter is helpful!

The next lessons show some tricks to making these rules work.

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