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How computer savvy are you?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / April 23, 2010 8:47 AM PDT

How computer savvy are you?

-- I write my own programs.
-- I built and configured my desktop.
-- I'm comfortable editing my Registry.
-- I upgrade my hardware and install software.
-- I upgrade programs and maintain my hard drive.
-- In my world, the words "computer" and "savvy" don't mix.
-- Computer? Is that what I'm using?

Here are a few questions to start the discussion off:

If you're pretty computer savvy, how did you get to your level of expertise (books, Web sites, school, etc.)?

What kind of sound advice would you give computer newbies who are just getting their feet wet in the computer world?

If you're a newbie, what is your greatest fear about the computer?

In this discussion if you are savvy, it's OK to brag about it Grin

Have fun with this discussion everyone!

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I'm a retired programmer
by FUTTHESHUCKUP / April 23, 2010 10:42 AM PDT

I was a programmer for just under 35 years and I retired about 16 or 17 years ago. I began with mainframes and later worked on Apple II+ and Radio Shack Model 2 computers and then I got into both the Data General minis and MS-Dos. I've freelanced, worked for local governments, insurance companies and financial institutions.

Most of my work was low-level, doing systems programming about 80% of the time and applications the other 20%.

I began with assembly and COBOL and later got into C. I also did some work in BASIC, Forth, and a small amount in Pascal and Fortran. I never did much GUI programming or OOP programming so these days I'm pretty much out of date.

I had a chance early on to get into embedded programming and I shied away from it, foolishly thinking that wasn't real programming. Oh how I wish I'd been a little smarter. Happy


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REtired and working harder than ever
by wpeckham / April 25, 2010 8:32 AM PDT

I started college in 1969, and learned to program in FORTRAN-4 on the way to a degree in Physics. During 10 years of teaching secondary field science and math I picked up several flavors of BASIC, '86 assembler, CPM, MPM-II, and wrote my own PILOT interpreter for the students to play with on FRANLKIN ACE 1000 Apple-II clones.

In 1984 I left teaching and went back for my degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science and encountered the wonders of Pascal, C, COBOL, IBM-DOS the SPARC workstations, and the IBM-PC.

I did programming for old DATA GENERAL machines, IBM AT&T 3B2 servers, and HP workstations for a hospital before getting into database administration. I also did network design, helped administrate Novell, and LBL networks (Ethernet and ARCnet).
I became a Network/System Administrator and did just about everything needed for a couple of companies. Along the way I spent 23 years in the United States Army National Guard.

Now I am retired from teaching, from the military, from programming in FORTRAN, BASIC, C, Assembler, and Pascal. I am retired from Database Administration, Analysis, Design, and (most) obsolete operating systems. I now administrate networks, Linux systems, code in BASH and Perl, and support custom applications for a small company in Pittsburgh. With a little luck I will not be totally retired until I have been dead for a year, I am having far to much fun to stop.

OK, that and I may have to keep working due to the two major market dumps that KILLED my 401Ks: my pensions add up to chickenfeed only for a very scrawny chicken. Happy

When I read of someone else that started back when HACKER meant the best and fastest programmer around and go-to guy during disasters (WAY before that stupid movie) it just feels so GOOD to know I am not the only one left.

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Bult my computer
by Alain Martel1 / April 23, 2010 11:07 AM PDT

I built my computer. From my first encounter, the registry is something prety easy to tweak to my taste.

I'm mostly an autodidact. I just plunge into it, look how it works and adjust it as I please. I play with INI files, explore and makes changes to the registry, and never caused any problems Grin Even when exploring/editing unknown parts. In fact, I made maybe 100+ changes in the registry before I red anything about it apart of it's role, or saw any warning about the "danger" of doing so... And I don't put it to bling chance.

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I started out with...
by Brechan / April 23, 2010 11:43 AM PDT

an MDG computer 4 years ago, from there...

-have built 4 computers from the ground up
-have no problems installing/ upgrading my software and hardware
-always upgrade my programs, and maintain my hard drive
-try to help coworkers with their computer troubles (viruses, upgrades, custom builds)
-when in doubt about certain computer problems, I research the subject to death

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Anybody can learn
by upbeatdad / April 23, 2010 11:59 AM PDT

I confess, I'm a gearhead. I've torn down and rebuilt car engines, but I was always afraid to touch the inside of a PC.

Then I saw an ad for a 'barebones' PC, and I thought, 'Why not?'

There are dozens of Web sites to guide you, complete with photos. If you're really nervous, tear apart an old computer first. The hardest part isn't the physical assembly, it's collecting parts that are compatible with each other. Try it and you'll be tossing around terms like Socket 775, Northbridge and Southbridge in no time.

The nice thing about 'build your own' is that you can pick the best parts for your creation, or simply pick parts that are on sale. Once you've assembled your own PC, upgrades like an extra hard drive, more memory, etc., just aren't daunting any longer.

The only 'gotcha' is when friends ask you to build a PC for them, or for their kid in college. No matter how clear you are about your post-assembly role, you will get a call every time there is any kind of glitch, hardware or software. The call usually starts with, "We're having a problem with YOUR PC."

So build them for yourself, for your immediate family, but send everyone else to Dell or CompUSA.

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Field Service Rep.
by mjd420nova / April 23, 2010 1:04 PM PDT
In reply to: Anybody can learn

Having serviced just about every kind of computer built since the latter seventies (prior military), there isn't much I haven't seen or serviced. The world is filled with single purpose processor based machines, from coin changers, soda machines, up to satelite earth stations and resturant ordering systems. I build all my own systems for myself, friends and relatives. The service goes along with those units as it's the least they'd expect. I have done machine language coding for small four bit processors and began with some Fortran and Cobal. Most of that is ancient technology but one must begin somewhere. Begin by learning electricity/electronics to keep yourself safe and if that suits you, the rest will be easy. Mastering the formulas for electronics will make binary and hexadecimal coding simple. The world is becoming more and more dependant upon processors for even the simplest jobs. Not all that hardware is disposable, someone has to repair it.

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So build them for yourself, for your immediate family...
by Brechan / April 23, 2010 1:08 PM PDT
In reply to: Anybody can learn

but send everyone else to Dell or CompUSA"

never had any problems with friends complaining about the builds I've done.

But I would hate to get a call from a friend or co-worker " How could you?!!! I bought a computer from Dell-or whatever company-and the Customer Support sucks!!! I hate you!! "

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Been programming since the first home PCs were manufactured.
by paoconnell / April 23, 2010 2:07 PM PDT

I used to be very competent at building (as in soldering and fabricating PCs), fixing cards, motherboards and so forth. I'm a very good programmer (Hire me?), and am still good at programming. Lately most problems with PCs are problems with computer software that I don't have source code for. Hard to fix without the source code...

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I have been told that this thing IS A COMPUTER.
by fragglesnap / April 23, 2010 2:46 PM PDT

Well, I can't say one way or the other. I am 65 and have been a rancher living in the great basin away from Phone service and that includes cell service too...Electricity wasn't there either nor was TV.

I am pretty much self taught on this thing and usually by trial and error. Thank goodness I had made friends most of my life and they were there to assist me in my hi-tech blunders or problems.

Guess I should have studied computers in college instead of getting a Ph.D. in Equine Science. How this old guy envys the kids that are experts on here.


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I have been told.......
by khesselb / April 24, 2010 12:22 AM PDT

I love you man!!!

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I have no idea.
by white-bread / April 30, 2010 6:20 PM PDT

Build and rebuild computers but anyone can do that.
Write programs but there are many people a lot better than me.
There's no registry on what I use. anyone can edit files.
Many people can upgrade hardware and install software. No special ability there.
Computer and "savvy" do not mix for the following reasons. "savvy" is a socially acceptable colloquialism for savant as in idiot savant. Such a term- whether positively or negatively enforcing- was used to describe people with autism. I've made an **** of myself at least once using this term without thinking.
Computer is too general of a term.

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Computer? Is that what I'm using?
by omahahomes001 / May 1, 2010 9:23 PM PDT

I'm not so good of these topic but for me computer is make my day better of my business and other and that why computer is what I'm using everyday...

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Computer Skills
by manmur / May 6, 2010 2:52 AM PDT

I am able to take apart and upgrade the hardware. I should let you know that this is something that I have not done for 9 years.
I do install and update all of the programs on my PC.
I am comfortable at editing my Registry. Even then I always back up the original so I could fix any mistakes I made.
Normally if any one in my family have a computer problem. I am the one they ask to go and fix-it.

I go to my skill though school, web, and books. I should mention trial and error.

I do not write my own programs.


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by manmur / May 11, 2010 1:14 PM PDT
In reply to: Computer Skills

"I go to my skill though school, web, and books. I should mention trial and error."

It should have read: I learned my skills though school, web, and books. I should mention trial and error.

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Compter and Savvy dont mix for me
by kerri anderton / May 16, 2010 2:54 AM PDT

I started with a ZX81 in 1982, followed by a Dragon 32, then a Commodore 1200. Moved to games consoles for a while, like Atari and Sega
First pc was on Win 95 in 1996. That was by far the best Win OS I ever had, and I was able to fix most problems. As pc 's have become more advanced my skill level has dropped.
I progressed through, MS Win ME, Apple OS9 and OS10, MS Win XP, MS Win Vista, and now on MS Win 7. My skill level is now "zero" with respect to configuring things, like my evolving Broadband difficulties; but I am happy to replace things like a HDD, Sound Card or Memory Card.

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Oh how the years pass.....
by out_fisherman / May 17, 2010 1:40 PM PDT

I built my first computer based on an RCA 6502 Microprocessor.
I used a schematic from an old Popular Computing magazine,
laid out, etched, and drilled my own PCB. I had 256 BYTES
of memory - not Kbytes, or Mbytes....just BYTES. (Memory was
very expensive back then). Granted, you couldn't do much with
that small memory, but I managed to write a few simple programs
to flash the LEDs, etc. using the 6502s Op-codes. This was
about in 1978 or so, I think....can't remember exactly...

Then I had a Timex-Sinclair ZX-80, then a Commodore-64.
Learned to write programs on these machines (anybody remember
the "sprites" used on the C-64 ???)

Then in (?) '87-88 bought a 'real' computer, Intel I-286
with a 2MB hard drive. Ran DOS and learned to write many
programs in BASIC. Then when Windows 3.1 came out, I needed
to upgrade my hard a whopping 5MB !!! Hoo-Boy !

Since then I've worked for many computer companies, learning
by necessity to write some programs in Fortran, C, UNIX,
and each companies own "proprietary code", as it were.
I guess you would say my background is mostly hardware, but
I also enjoy coding and have done same for years. Fast-forward
to today....unless you are fixing hardware, there is little
need or desire to write programs at the op-code or processor
level. It's a lost art, I'm afraid.

My only concern is that people today have NO APPRECIATION
for the powerful machines they now have - but I do, since I
was there before all the nicey-nice things came into being.

We truly live in amazing's been a heck of a ride.

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