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e-Notes, Vol. 2 No. 9



Since computer technology is moving ahead so fast, there are times that we get lost or confused.  There are new terms and programs and it may be difficult to decide how they might affect your computer experience.  In trying to help you, the Computer College has offered a number of new courses.  Perhaps we have not done a good job of explaining that the new technology may not be all that much different.  Likely you can smoothly transition with a little help from a course. 


Listed below are some of the myths or misunderstandings that keep arising.  We hope by knowing the facts you will be more comfortable moving ahead.  But first we need to define some of the terms that are used.


What is an Operating System (OS)?


“An operating system is an interface between hardware and user. An OS is responsible for the management and coordination of activities and the sharing of the resources of the computer. The operating system acts as a host for computing applications run on the machine.” *


Microsoft Windows XP has been the most common OS for a number of years.  Windows Vista was introduced in 2007 and if you purchase a new computer today it will likely have Vista as the OS.  Microsoft is introducing a new OS called Windows 7 in October. 

Recently TechRepublic had this headline: “The end is near for Windows XP: what are you going to do?”  This is directed primarily to business and the results of 13,408 votes in a survey are instructive.  The first question was, “Is your organization still using Windows XP as the primary OS?”  Yes (96%).   In response to the next question, 45% were waiting to switch to Windows 7 while 44% did not plan to switch.

What has this to do with a Shell Point computer user?  If you have XP you are not alone.  If your computer is working well and the programs meet your needs, you may want to do nothing.  If, however, you have an old computer that is not working well and you find it necessary to get a new one, right now it will come with Vista.  Many stores are selling new computers with a free upgrade to Windows 7.  The reports indicate it is not difficult to upgrade Vista to Windows 7.  Apparently upgrading XP to Windows 7 is not easy, even if your computer has adequate specifications.


What is the bottom line?  The OS has the primary function to help you use your programs.  Since many of you may have used 4 or more different operating systems over time, you know there is generally very little “learning” to use a new system.  What you must know about is programs and how to use them.  This is where the Computer College courses come in.


What is Application software?


“Application software is a computer program that functions and is operated by means of a computer, with the purpose of supporting or improving the software user's work. In other words, it is the subclass of computer software that employs the capabilities of a computer directly and thoroughly to a task that the user wishes to perform.”

“Typical examples of 'software applications' are word processors, spreadsheets, media players and database applications.

“Multiple applications bundled together as a package are sometimes referred to as an application suite, such as Microsoft Office or Microsoft Works, which bundle together a word processor, a spreadsheet, and several other discrete applications, are typical examples.” *

What about the Computer College courses?


When a number of residents purchased new computers with Vista, the Computer College offered a number of short courses covering the features that were different from XP.  For more than a year courses were offered in either XP or Vista.  If the course is on learning a program such as word processing or graphics, which OS you use makes very little difference.  It is anticipated that courses on a specific OS will be phased out and the emphasis will be on learning how to effectively use application programs.  Sign up for one or more of the courses that will help you learn how to use your programs and don’t worry about the OS or if it is taught using laptops!   When you can use your programs easily, using your computer will be fun. 

*  Wikipedia.  Operating Systems.  Retrieved from URL  http://en.wikipedia.org  8/22/09

A New Record


No one was placed on a wait list!  For the first time in a number of years, the wait list doesn’t exist.  With the addition of 4 second sections, at the time of randomization after 3 days of registration for the fall term, everyone had a “class seat”.


Each term the CCSC makes every attempt to offer courses to meet the needs of the residents.  Since only 1 or 2 signed up for some of the courses, it was necessary to cancel these.  In all cases, the person whose course was canceled, was contacted to see if there might be another suitable course.  The goal is to meet the needs of every resident.



New Evaluation Forms


No doubt you have filled out one of the evaluation sheets that have been sent out by the Academy following an event.  The same forms have been used for Computer College courses.  For some time the CCSC has been working on a revised evaluation form to be exclusively for the Computer College.  The goal of the new form is to evaluate the courses with the goal of finding ways to improve the curriculum.  When you receive the form, probably at the last session of the course, please take time to carefully evaluate the course.  Your responses will be tabulated by the CCSC and the information utilized to improve the curriculum offered by the Computer College. 


Wow!  This turned out to be quite an epistle. The hope is that it helps to clear up some of the misconceptions that can arise with something new.  Please help with your suggestions.



Published by the Computer College Steering Committee (CCSC)

Russ Kraay, Editor