Church Workers Handbook: Chapter 6. Shopping For and Using a Microcomputer
©2012 DiskBooks Electronic Publishing

Index of all posts

The Church Workers Handbook is filled with practical information that you may not have learned in Bible college or seminary. If you haven't already learned this information in the school of hard knocks, you need this series of blogs. This will be information for anyone who serves in any capacity in a church (from senior pastor up to janitor).

Ed and Nancy Lint

G. Edwin Lint, BS, ThB, MA
Bachelor of Science in Bible, Bachelor of Theology, Master of Education Administration and Supervision.

Much of the Drawbridge content is political in general and anti-Obama in particular.

I am still convinced that Obama is America's worst president, bar none. However, I have decided to give Obama a rest on the Sundays of 2012 and concentrate on spiritual and/or educational content, only.

Today, I am continuing a series of blogs based on my book Church Workers Handbook.

Last Sunday, I presented Chapter 5 Creating True friendship in Your Church

Today, I will share 6. Shopping For and Using a Microcomputer

This book is available at the DiskBooks Electronic Publishing Free Downloads in pdf format.

If you wish to download the entire pdf file of 205 pages, click this link: Church Workers Handbook

The individual chapters are shown in the Table of Contents: [html format]

1996, 2012
G. Edwin Lint, BS, ThB, MA
DiskBooks Electronic Publishing

This chapter is written for those who know absolutely nothing about computers and want to learn. This chapter won't tell you everything you need to know, but it is a starting point.

Chapter 7, Basics of Desktop Publishing, talks about using computers to print high quality camera-ready originals. This chapter will be covered next week.


When shopping for a computer, you'll need to make the following choices.

Macintosh or Windows?
Your first choice is the type of computer you want to buy. The Apple Macintosh is the easiest computer in the world to learn to use. The iMacs are also colorful. However, prices may be a little higher than computers that run Windows.

I started out with an Apple IIe computer, running ProDOS. Apple no longer makes the IIe but they do make the Macintosh line. Later, I moved up to a Macintosh G3. Now, I'm using a Dell Dimension Windows computer. All IBM computers and all their clones run Windows.

Is the Mac easier to run?
Many people claim it is. One reason is that back in the 1980s, Apple Computer perfected the graphical user interface (GUI) for use on the Macintosh which involves the mouse and windows. Although both the Macintosh and Windows computers use the mouse, things run a little smoother on the Mac. If you want a second opinion, make sure you talk to a person who has used both Macintosh and Windows. Macintosh users are fond of telling the world that IBM stands for I've Been Misled.

In about 1989, while working as a Macintosh computer coordinator for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, I had a visit by an IBM rep from Boca Raton, Florida. He was bursting with pride to show me their version of Windows. He said it had the look and feel of the Mac. I said if it did, Apple would sue. Actually, this was a piece of junk in comparison to the Mac of that day. The version of Windows he showed me was full of bugs and was no way as instinctive to use as the Mac.

Apple did sue but they settled out of court. However, Microsoft made the smart move of licensing everyone to put their version of Windows on the computers they built. Apple, on the other hand, kept the original version of Windows for the Macs they built. Windows 3.0 was better than the beta version I saw. Each successive version became better than the previous version as Microsoft continued to strive to give Windows the look and feel of the Mac.

Additional choices.
You'll need to made choices about RAM, Speed, and hard drive capacity. You can use the glossary below to help you understand these terms and how to make the best choices for your use.

A Beginner's Glossary

As you shop for a computer, you'll need to have a basic understanding of these terms.

CD-ROM: This stands for Compact Disk, Read-Only Memory. If you've used an audio compact disk, a computer CD is the same concept. Read-only memory means this device can play back but it can't record [burn] a new CD. In this way it's like a phonograph player. Most new computers have a CD unit that both plays back and records [reads and writes].

If you want your computer to play DVDs [Digital Video Discs], you can pay a little extra for a drive that will both play DVD movies and make copies of existing DVDs. This may be important to you if you have one of the new video cameras that records onto a DVD.

Database: a software program that can be used to store and sort lists of data, such as names and addresses. A database consists of records and fields. In a Christmas card list, each name on the list is a record. Each category of information is a field: name, address, city, state, zip, phone, etc. at infinitum.

Drawing: a software program which can be used to draw and paint with the mouse.

Flat Panel Display [FPD]: Original computers used CRT [cathode ray tube] monitors, similar to TV sets. FPD monitors are much lighter and take up much less physical space on your desk. If you have a choice, ask for an FPD.

Floppy drive: This is a device which can record and play back 3.5-inch computer disks. Each such disk can hold up to 1.4 megabytes of data. Warning: computer manufacturers no longer consider the floppy drive standard equipment. If you want one, you have to ask for it at the time you are placing your order.

Hard drive: a high capacity drive which is installed inside the computer or a cabinet of its own. When shopping, your computer should have a hard drive capacity of at least 40 gigs.

Zip Drive. [Optional] The zip drive uses a larger disk that holds 100, or up to 750 megs of memory. An external zip drive is nice for backing up your important work files each night, for archiving stuff you no longer want to keep on your hard drive, and for sharing large amounts of data with other zip drive users. Your new computer will run without a zip drive, however

Speakers: If you want your computer to play sound, as is necessary when listening to Internet radio, you will want to specify that speakers be included.

Hardware: the computer and printer are considered hardware.

Megabyte: One megabyte (mb) is equal to about ten thousand typewritten characters

Modem: a hardware item that allows the computer to communicate across phone lines or the cable.

Internet Access: Computers and the Internet are now thought of together, just as salt and pepper. While it is true that the Internet brings to any computer World-wide access to information and music, it also brings the potential for unlimited evil in the form of all levels of pornography, obscenity, vulgarity, and the occult. Fortunately, some ISPs feature safe Internet service that can filter out the filth.

Internet delivery comes in three basic forms:

Dial-up: This is the original delivery method via standard phone lines and a modem to connect the phone line to the computer.

DSL: This is the delivery method some phone companies are pushing. Faster than dial-up but not as fast as cable.

Cable: This method features high speed always-on Internet service that travels along with the TV service and terminates in a cable modem. The modem is then connected to the computer with a short cable or to a wireless access point router.

Wireless: If a church, office, or home is equipped with a wireless access point router, this router broadcasts the Internet signal to all computers within range that are equipped with wireless cards. Range may depend on the size and layout of the building. My computer is equipped with a NETGEAR Router and is located on the ground floor of our home. It drives my computer, in the same room, my wife's computer, upstairs in her office, and any notebook computer equipped with a wireless card. Visitors can take their notebook anywhere in our home and always have Internet access.

Wireless Security: Sometimes, people with notebook computers and wireless cards will cruise the neighborhood, looking for unprotected wireless signals. For this reason, your wireless Internet signal should be password protected. This is especially true for people living in apartment houses or condos. A neighbor on another floor or right next to you may be siphoning off your Internet signal, and degrading your potential speed, if it is not password protected. Xx Notebook computer: [Originally known as a laptop] My guess is that this type of portable computer is no longer known as a laptop because of the heat generated by extended use. The Macintosh version of a notebook computer is known as a PowerBook.

Wireless card: Your new notebook computer should be equipped with a wireless card, ready to work right out of the box. This means that any place that advertises wireless Internet access is a place where you can open your notebook and access the Internet Restaurants, such as Starbucks, and hotel/motel chains such as Holiday Inn are starting to offer high speed Internet access.

A mouse is still nice: Most notebook computers don't come with a mouse as standard equipment. Instead, they offer a small surface where you can move your fingertips to control the mouse pointer and two buttons where you can Right Click and Left Click. However, I find this touch pad to be very annoying. When I bought my notebook, I also bought an optical mouse. [An optical mouse has no rolling ball and will work on almost any smooth surface such as a magazine.] Such a mouse will be fitted with a USB jack and you can plug it right in to the back of the computer. I always travel with my optical mouse in a pocket of my notebook carrying case.

Unfortunately, the optical mouse can't correct the worst problem created by the touch pad. It moves the keyboard back about three inches from the front edge of the computer. If you are a touch typist and learned to type by subconsciously memorizing the position of all the keys on the keyboard, moving the keys three inches in any direction may drive you to become a hunt and peck typist again! Perhaps the young people don't have as much trouble with such change as we older folk.

Operating system: there are two popular operating systems; Macintosh made by Apple, and Windows, made by Microsoft. The Macintosh operating system exists only on Macintosh computers made by Apple and features the mouse pointing device and windows for displaying data. The Windows system was made by Microsoft and gives the look and feel of the Macintosh. Windows can be found on just about any computer except the Macintosh. Both companies [Apple and Microsoft] are continually releasing new versions of their operating systems. For example, this Windows computer is using Windows XP.

RAM: Random access memory. This is the volatile "memory" of the computer; however, it only lasts while the computer is on. When the computer is turned off, the only thing that exists when the computer is turned on again is what was "saved" to a floppy disk or to a hard drive. When shopping, your computer should have at least 512 Mb of RAM. The more RAM, the more programs can be held in memory at one time.

Software: the programs that enable a computer to do work are known as software. These programs are sold on CDs. When the owner gets them home, they are copied to [installed onto] the hard drive. It is illegal to make more than one installed copy of software. Some new computers come with software preinstalled. This is known as a software bundle.

Speed: the number of calculations per second the computer's microprocessor can accomplish is measured in gigahertz (GHz). When shopping, your computer should have a speed of at least 2.80GHz.

Spreadsheet: a software program which can be used to calculate numbers just like an old-fashioned spreadsheet. However, a spreadsheet can recalculate the final result if only one variable is changed.

Telecommunications: a software program which can be used to communicate across telephone lines or cable.

Word processor: a software program which can be used to write anything from a short note to a full-length novel.

Should Our Church Wait for New Developments or Buy Now?

This chapter was updated in March 2012. By the time you read it, the computer trade shows and journals will be trumpeting another advance in the computer world that is, at this moment, still in draft format in someone's word processor. The longer you wait, the farther your church will fall behind.

As the power and sophistication go up, the price comes down. For example, I paid $2,000 for my Apple IIe computer in 1984, complete with 128K RAM and two 5.25-inch floppy drives. That computer is a Model-T Ford in comparison to the computer I'm writing on right now.

I bought this Windows PC in 2005 for $856 [after all rebates] with the following features:

40 GB Hard Drive

CD Burner

17" Flat-Panel Display

Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003

[MS Word, PowerPoint, MS Outlook etc]


Floppy drive Xx I could have bought an ink-jet printer capable of 300 dpi resolution for an extra $100.

Where Should We Shop?
Computer stores. This is the best place to buy a computer. If you have a question or problem, or something goes wrong, there is a good chance you'll be able to find help right in the store. However, you may find the prices to be higher in such stores.

Discount office supply stores and department stores. These stores may give you the best selection of brand names and price ranges. The prices here may be lower than computer stores, but there is little chance that anyone in the store will be able to help you with your questions and problems. If something goes wrong, you may have to use the manufacturer's 800 number. However, some companies do not have a toll-free number for software problems; only hardware problems. If the computer fails during the warranty, you may have to ship it away for service. If you are totally dissatisfied within a specified period of time, your money may be refunded.

Computer catalogs. Mail order catalogs may give you the best prices. However, you'll have to factor in shipping charges when you do comparison shopping. If you have questions or problems, expect about the same level of service as you'll get in office supply and department stores.

What Do We Need to Know about Computers?

How long does it take to visit the Smithsonion Institution in Washington, DC? You can spend a couple hours, a couple days, or a couple weeks. And, you can approach your mastery of the computer in the same way. You can learn to write a simple letter in a couple hours. Or, you can spend all your spare time for the next ten years and still be learning.

The best way to learn to use a computer is to study what you need to know right now. Save other tasks until you need to know how to do a particular task.

Here's a list of instructional objectives you can use in various computer tasks for yourself and your family.

Introductory skills
Uses computer keyboard for playing simple games
Uses computer keyboard for drill and practice activities
Uses computer keyboard for typing simple messages on e-mail and for writing simple notes
Uses computer keyboard for entering data via dumb terminals Uses computer keyboard for writing stories and articles
Uses computer keyboard for entering data in database and spreadsheet documents
Uses computer keyboard for learning QWERTY and Dvorak touch systems
Explains difference between temporary random access memory (RAM) and disk storage
Uses on-line help screens to learn about an application Integrates keyboard with mouse to edit documents Uses mouse to point, select, drag, and draw simple shapes
Distinguishes between hardware and software functions
Distinguishes among mainframe, mini, and desktop computers

General skills
Uses manual to achieve a software product's potential
Installs software from floppy disks to a hard drive
Troubleshoots problems via manufacturer's manuals
Determines when help is needed with a technical problem
Saves document to a specific disk, folder, or directory
Backs up documents on a separate disk to prevent accidental loss of data
Deletes unneeded documents from disks
Interacts with other peripherals on a local area network (LAN)
Copies and moves data between documents
Deletes blocks of data Uses mail merge capability of word processor and database applications Formats report for printer
Uses translation software to convert documents between disk operating systems
Saves document as a text (ASCII) file for import or translation Imports and exports data between documents
Understands tab/comma separated database and spreadsheet structure
Understands fixed-length field database and spreadsheet structure
Uses scanner to convert line drawing or photo into computer graphic Uses scanner to convert hard copy text or numerals into computer document

Word processor
Uses word processor keyboard commands, when available, instead of mouse
Copies and moves data within document
Indents, nests, and hangs paragraphs
Finds and replaces specific text segments and formatting codes throughout document
Creates and modifies tab tables
Edits document from hard copy draft
Visualizes edits which need to be made and makes those edits on screen
Runs document through spelling and grammar checker
Uses on-line thesaurus Formats document for the printer

Sets up database structure
Understands relationship between record and field
Defines data fields for entering text, numerals, date, time, graphics
Establishes rules for selecting records for display and printout
Sorts records according to specific field(s)
Prints reports and mailing labels from database records

Sets up spreadsheet structure
Creates spreadsheet formulae to answer 'what if' questions
Formats worksheet report for printer
Prints worksheets or exports worksheets to another document

Uses e-mail systems
Uses telecommunications software to interact with remote systems
Configures a modem for a specific remote system
Uses modem to access remote database and transfer files
Uses a commercial on-line service such as ComcastNet
Uses an Internet Service Provider such as Netcom.
Navigates the Internet with a web browser such as Netscape.

Desktop publishing (DTP)
Imports word processor document and graphics into DTP document Formats flyer, newsletter page, and brochure
Places text blocks and graphic elements on a page
Creates odd/even headers and footers, with embedded page numbers
Prints camera-ready originals ready for duplication

Paints, draws, and designs with mouse and other input peripherals
Uses music interface (MIDI) to play and compose music
Uses digital photography to enhance computer projects

Understands rules for handling and using data disks
Plugs/unplugs common computer peripherals
Distinguishes between hardware and software problems
Provides incidental maintenance for local printer: clears jams; loads paper; replaces ribbon, toner cartridge, or ink cartridge
Understands characteristics of dot matrix, printwheel, ink jet, and laser printers

End of Chapter 6


G. Edwin Lint, BS, ThB, MA, -- Editor

This blog provides conservative information on political, spiritual, economic, educational and social issues Monday through Saturday.
On Sunday, the content is spiritual and educational only.
Jesus said: What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. Luke 12:3
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)