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Collection of Hardware Resources

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The following sections provide a collection of resources that can help you find out more about PC hardware and its associated technologies. Much of the information is supplied as a starting point.

It's a Windowed World

The number of PCs that run a Microsoft Windows operating system is literally staggering. If you are a company that develops software for PCs, you are going to need a very good reason to develop your software and not include a version for Microsoft Windows. There are those that do, but they are the exception rather than the rule. This does work in your favor, however. Applications that run on the Windows operating system have a common interface, which means that they are easy to install, configure, use, tweak, update, and remove. In many cases, menu systems and keystrokes are the same in different applications. Press Fl, and you get a help screen. Go to Help | About, and you can see the product's serial number. This is not always true, but it happens enough that a seasoned PC support person will be able to figure out the software pretty quickly when faced with a common interface. This commonality, combined with the willingness to investigate problems is what allows the PC support person to track down and correct errors.

Turning Theory into Practice

The software support person's role revolves around tasks such as installing, updating, and removing application software on PCs. Many PC support people choose to take their knowledge further, learning how to customize and support specific applications in depth.This learning may include, for example, macro creation or even basic programming. In general, PC support people are normally required to know enough so that they can solve a wide variety of software related issues. "r" also need to have the ability to find help from other sources. In some cases, t1 involves calling the manufacturer's software Help Desk to discuss the problei following list contains some tasks that PC software support personnel will fi themselves performing:
  • Installation of software packages and operating systems-One of the main task software support person will find themselves doing is installing new vers. operating systems or applications. Nowadays, many large corporate comf use automated network software installations, which means that each workstation does not have to be visited. Even so, the installations do not always go as planned, and PC support staff are often involved in preparing these rollouts.

  • Upgrade and update software-Software packages are updated on a frequent basis. When they are, PC software support technicians are often responsible for installing the new packages and easing the transition for the users. This may involve training, and in many cases, researching the product to answer the users' questions.

  • Troubleshoot application and system errors-The complexity of applications and operating systems can result in frequent errors. In some cases, these errors are not the fault of the software, but of the person using it. In these cases, PC software support technicians must be diplomatic in correcting the "problem."

  • Advise users on software use-Although many users have a reasonable knowledge of the applications they use, to get the best of some of the more advanced features, some help may be needed. It is the responsibility of the PC software support technician to help users with the more advanced functions as well as help with tasks such as the importing and exporting of data.

  • Overseeing general PC usage-Currently, most companies have policies regarding the use of computer systems within their organization. Because PC software support technicians often spend time around their company's systems, they become the eyes and ears of management in regard to employees' adherence to these policies. Although most PC support staffs' role in this context is that of reporting back to management, it is a side of the job that many professionals do not like.
This list is by no means comprehensive, and PC software support personnel will find themselves doing a multitude of other tasks as well.

Self-Study Options

If there was ever a good way to learn about computer hardware, the process of building and dismanding a PC would have to rank as number one. That said, your own PC may not be the best place to start experimenting with BIOS configuration changes and device driver updates.

Warning: Before you consider self-study in PC hardware, remember that PCs are electrical devices and as such can be potentially fatal. Never open the case of a PC, monitor, printer, or any other device without first making yourself aware of the risks involved and the precautions you must take.

If you want to get some hands-on practice without risking costly accidents, consider purchasing a used computer that can become a test-bed for your experiments. A system that is neither cutting edge, nor rusting away, is perfect. In many cases, such a unit is quite representative of what you may end up dealing with in the field. If funds are tight, consider approaching local computer stores and asking them for old PC equipment, or even place a want ad in your local newspaper. Although this strategy may cause you to end up with a reasonable amount of junk, you may just find enough components to build a system. In fact, the older and weirder the components you get, the more likely they are to represent a challenge in configuration and setup. By experimenting with these types of components and troubleshooting the conflicts, you will learn a great deal more than if the system was complete at the outset.

Any system you use or put together should be capable of running one or more of the operating systems mentioned earlier. The system doesn't need to be extremely fast, and as a matter of fact, if the system is a little slow, then you will have the opportunity and associated experience of tweaking the operating system to its best performance.

A book or study guide is an almost essential companion to a self-study program, and most people find that it pays to learn some theory before actually diving into the box and trying things out. Preparing yourself in this way inspires confidence and can also help to prevent costly mistakes.
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