the heck did you find this old page? Please let me know.
but, this bit is going to sound like an advertisement for
PC's and Microsoft. It's not that I like, PC's and Microsoft,
(personally I used to prefer Acorn Risc machines and
RiscOS) it's just that, as far as Internet is concerned,
they are the most economical and widely supported choice.
you are buying a computer to use on Internet, then
you are faced with several choices.
The first of these choices
is which platform you intend to use. There are three main
A PC, a Power Macintosh
and Web TV. At the moment a PC workstation is more economical
and there is a greater variety of software available for it..
Your second choice is
the performance of the computer you wish to use. As a
very minimum, I would suggest a Pentium 75 with 16 MB
of memory, Win95, and a 14" monitor. You can use a lower
specification, but, if you do, then expect to have problems
running some software. This does not mean you can go out
and purchase a Pentium 75. A Pentium II 233 was the slowest
computer I was able to find in advertisements in Nov 1999.
(Today in 2007 most mobile phones have a higher
spec than that) Most entry systems use Celeron processors.
Soon, I suspect a Pentium III 400 will be your minimum
choice. You can improve on this specification by:
- Increase the amount
of memory - 64 MB is better, 128 MB is better still.
a bigger monitor. 14" is reasonable for individual
to use for an hour or so. If you want to use it for longer,
then a 15" monitor is better. If you want to use it with
a group of people, then go for a 17 or 19" monitor
- Increase the processor
speed. At the time of writing, you can go up to a 700 MHz
- Get a faster processor
e.g.. a Pentium II or Pentium III.
- Purchase a better
graphics card which has more onboard memory. Look for at
least 8 MB of memory, more is better. Some can be expanded
- Choose Windows 98
as your operating system rather than Win95 and consider
going for Windows 2000.
If you're planning on
buying a new system, then your most economical method is to
purchase the computer over Internet. By doing that, you can
quickly find a good deal and save on the sales tax (provided
you order outside your home state). Even with shipping and
handling added, you still save money. A good firm to deal
with, who have a reputation for reliable systems at an affordable
price is Dell. Check
them out here.
If you expect to
spend more than a couple of hours a day working at a keyboard
then it is worth while purchasing an natural (ergonomic) keyboard
- Doing so will reduce the possibility of repetitive strain
injury. If you are buying keyboards for a school then save
money by buying a standard (and economical) keyboard. If they
malfunction then throw them away and purchase another.
For your own personal use, then by all means purchase a mouse
with a scroll wheel. But, bear in mind they won't save you
a vast amount of time, they will cost more, they won't last
any longer and are more likely to cause software conflicts.
For use in a school, buy the most economical mouse available.
If it malfunctions, apart from cleaning the internal rollers
throw it away and purchase another. Do not expect a mouse
to last much longer than a period of one year in a school.
56K modems are becoming widely accepted and I believe
you would be foolish to go for anything less. You might save
a little money by accepting a 33.6K modem, but they money
you save would not make up for the aggravation cause by the
increased delays, especially if you have to pay for local
phone calls. One thing you should bear in mind, is that having
a 56K modem does not mean you are guaranteed a 56K transfer
rate. That depends on your ISP and local phone line capabilities.
Your phone line is only as good as it's worst connection.
an internal modem :
- it's more economical
- it needs one
less power socket
- it needs fewer
- it does not
use up a serial port
- 'little hands'
can't tamper with it
You have two choices for printers:
Laser printers are faster,
but, only work in black and white. Ink jet printers offer color,
but are slow and produce poorer quality print outs. Both need
careful choice if you are to avoid high running costs.
- A laser printer
- A color inkjet/bubblejet
- leave the top open
on a laser printer - it damages the drum
- use a laser printer
in a small, unventilated room - they give off 'ozone' which
can make you aggressive temporarily. (The same is true for
- try to refill the
toner container on a laser printer - can 'ruin' the drum
- buy a laser printer
for a school which has fragile 'input and output' trays
- switch off the power
to an ink jet printer unless the 'head' has been parked
- even consider purchasing
a 'dot matrix' printer - noisy, slow and produces poor quality
by today's standards (OK buy one if you must have carbon
- check the cost of
replacement toner cartridges and drums on a laser printer
and find out the expected lifetime of each so that you can
work out the running costs of the printer if these are not
already worked out for you by the manufacturer.
- expect laser printers
with a combined drum and toner cartridge to provide a better
quality of output in the long term, since you are always
working with a new drum.
- look for firms which
will exchange your old laser cartridges for recycled ones.
- check the cost of
replacement ink cartridges on ink jets and bubble jets and
again find out running costs.
- avoid printers where
you have to remove a cartridge and replace it when changing
from colour to black and white.
- avoid printers where
the installed cartridge/s have only three colors - you need
four colors - cyan, magenta, yellow and black available
if you are to avoid muddy brown coloured blacks.
- look for 'refills'
for ink cartridges as a way of reducing cost (I've never
yet, come across an ink cartridge I could not refill).
you are buying a printer for a network, choose one which has
a large paper input tray, a very fast output, the option of
being connected directly to the network and one which preferably,
has as few switches and buttons as possible.
When purchasing computer furniture, make sure you get
desks which are deep and big enough to hold the computer,
monitor and keyboard, have space for the mouse and still room
to use writing material. (OK, I know the idea is to use information
technology, but sometimes it is quicker to write it longhand).
A good computer desk should have a way of keeping the cables
tidy and out of the way. There is nothing more annoying than
loosing your work because someone tripped over the wires.
If you are using a modem you will need a separate telephone
line - one which does not go through a switch board. The computer
will tie up the line for hours at a time and will make things
difficult for a switch board operator.
An ISDN line is a special telephone line which carries digital
signals rather than the normal analogue voice signals. Digital
signals from a computer can travel along an ISDN line much
faster than they can by first being converted to 'analogue'
signals by a modem. To use an ISDN line you will need a router.
Call charges are as normal lines but line rental is more expensive.
Many telecommunication firms however, will negotiate a special
rate for educational establishments.
A leased line is a digital telephone line which is permanently
connected to your information service provider. There are
no telephone call charges but line charges are expensive.
It is only worthwhile considering a leased line if you have
an extensive site with lots of users and maintain an often
used web site.
A router is used to make or 'route' the connection between
an ISDN or leased line, and either a Proxy server or the computers
on your network. (A proxy server acts as a 'go between' the
Internet and your network and can both make your network more
secure and speed up access to web pages).
The file server on a network stores your files. It can also
store applications and handle the security of your network.
If you are buying one, get a powerful computer with LOTS of
fast storage space on it's hard drives. It is a good idea,
also, to have some way of making a removable backup of all
your files. The file server does not need and expensive graphics
card or expensive monitor (in fact most of the time it does
not need a monitor at all, so if you need a monitor while
one is repaired, borrow the file server's).
Service Provider (ISP)
An ISP is a firm which
makes the connection between your telephone line and the Internet.
ISP's charge for this connection and usually, but not always,
offer web space as part of the deal. Your ISP will also act
as your gateway to e-mail and news net. There are lots of
ISP's and you should choose one which:
- has a local access
- has at least 1 modem
per 12 users - ask
- has fast, direct
access to the Internet and therefore does not act as a bottleneck
- has a 24 hour help
- offers unlimited
access time i.e. they will not charge you for the amount
of time you spend on Internet.
- does not cut you
off after a certain preset number of hours
If you are in the UK
- ask what happens if their line to the USA goes down.
An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a number in the format
a.b.c.d where a, b, c and d are numbers between 0 and 255.
Every computer on Internet must have it's own unique IP address.
There are about 4.3 billion possible combinations. Some ISP's
will give you a fixed IP address, others will give you the
use of an IP address while you are connected to them (a dynamic
This is all of the electronic parts of your computer. Such
- disk drives (floppy
- graphics (video)
- sound card
- compact disc (CD-ROM)
A work station
is made up of:
- a computer (CPU)
- a monitor
- a keyboard
- floppy disk drive
- hard disk drive
- sound card
- video card
- CD ROM drive (becoming
essential with software installation)
- modem or network
- a means of printing
The network is used to connect computers together to allow
them to share files and expensive items of hardware such as
printers or routers.
common type of network cabling is 'Ethernet' which usually
runs at 10 Mb per sec. There are two main types of cable.
The most economical type of network cabling is '10 base 2'
in which a single length of cable is run between two terminators
and computers, router and file server are attached by 'T pieces'.
Although this system
is 'cheap', a break anywhere in the cable crashes your entire
network and it's speed can not be increased. A better system
is '10 base T' in which each computer has a separate cable
attaching it to a 'hub'. With care positioning
the cabling, a 10 base T system can be upgraded to a 100 base
T system. (Ten times as fast!)
can be very complicated and there are factors to be considered
- the length of the
- whether the cable
is to go between buildings
- how tightly the cable