Written by vik

Topics: How-to

learning-computersI am writing this post for my friends/acquaintances in JNU who are not well-versed with the computer/internet and are about to embrace these IT tools or are still struggling with it. This article is meant only for those like me who have not done any special study/course on computers/IT/software.

I myself was more or less a layperson. But from late 2007, I have gained good knowledge thanks to enormous readings about the computers/internet/software on the world wide web. I will just ask my friends to read this post instead of informing them individually. You may also find it informative if your computer knowledge is below average. I will start from scratch.


  • You must do some research on the internet and discuss with your peers/friends/neighbours before buying your first desktop/laptop. Also, you may hunt for good discounts, visit various shops, search online. This is something many people avoid or find painful or unnecessary.

  • When I was buying my desktop, I had researched thoroughly (also due to fear because it was my maiden attempt). I had consulted my friends, compared prices from various bills, compared prices at various shops (Nehru Place, New Delhi), read about hardware, assessed my needs etc. It had taken a lot of time but I learnt a lot.

  • You must estimate your needs: the RAM you need, how much hard disk space you need, whether you need assembled system or branded one etc. If you are in New Delhi you go to Nehru Place (here you may go to Computer Empire or Cost to Cost, the two big shops, though I dislike their monopoly).
  • Buy a good furniture for your desktop. Your posture while using your computer will determine your health. Read and research on the internet about it. Computer Related Injuries (CRI) are very common today. Ignore this aspect and you will regret later. A laptop is ergonomically lacking – you may consider buying an extra keyboard and mouse for it and a small table/stand too.


  • The hardware (computer) needs software (such as the most popular Windows) to run it. If it is a laptop, you already have it pre-installed. Windows XP is officially over (however wonderful it may have been); so get only Vista (some would still try to sell you XP). You also need a good anti-virus (preferably with inbuilt spyware) such as Kaspersky or Eset Nod 32 (Norton is not recommended as it slows the system). In New Delhi and rest of India, Kaspersky is selling its Internet Security 2009 commercial version in only 300 Rupees for 3 computers with a one year validity (I have one)!

  • If you got an assembled desktop, you will need to purchase Windows which costs an arm and a leg! Not many people  lose their arm or leg in India, needless to say! You will get your pirated copy from somewhere, rest assured! Or else, install some good Linux software such as Ubuntu, KDE etc. I have both Windows Vista Ultimate and Kubuntu installed on my desktop (you can request free CDs of Ubuntu software on internet; request in bulk and gift it your friends). If you have pirated OS (Windows) you may consider switching off the windows update option from the update settings in the control panel. I, however, implore you to discourage piracy.
  • You will need MS office too but the freeware Open will also suffice. You will install other important software on your systems such as a PDF reader, other browsers (like Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari etc.; avoid Internet Explorer because it’s slow and unsafe), Media players like VLC, Classic Media Player, Winamp etc. depending on your uses and needs. You must store the set up files (.exe files) of all your software in your hard disk for future use.


  • For the first few days, I suggest you only read about computers and internet. BBC guide to using a computer is a good source to begin with. Read the help files/read me guides of your software and programmes. This is something that most people dislike ! But this really enhances your knowledge; it has enhanced  mine for sure! Even my friends are averse to reading. All want to jump this step! Reading help files and instructions with some trial and error will get you some self confidence.

  • The WWW is full of good websites/sources where you can post your IT queries (such as Yahoo Answers or Tom’s Hardware). Read how to keep your computer safe, what basic tweaks to do with your computer, how to maintain it (defragment, disk checking, cleaning temporary files etc.).

  • Find articles like ‘best free 100 programmes for your computer’, ‘best free softwares’ etc. from reputed sources like PC  Mag , ZD Net, Labnol, ask-leo etc. and see if they are useful for you. CC Cleaner, Easy Cleaner, Spyware doctor with Gooogle toolbar are some good utilities freely available. If you are serious about keeping your computer safe you will stay away from pornographic sites notwithstanding the temptation (or at least surf only those sites which McAfee SiteAdvisor shows as safe green ones!)! 🙂 If you are doing online banking on internet make sure you delete cookies and browsing history (or use the incognito browsing option in Chrome or Safari browsers).
  • Chances are you have done some harm to your computer by now – a virus or Trojan has ruined your system! Do not worry; that happens in the cyberspace. Now you must learn to keep a back up of your data and also learn how to format the system (i.e. installing the operating system) lest you will seek friends/expert every time that happens. I learnt it slowly but surely. Sometime you may open the CPU of your computer (never open the insides of your laptop or branded desktop though) and discover what lies inside – the RAM looks like a comb etc.!
  • This stage may prolong for you; when it has prolonged enough you will  become a pro! If this stage seems indefinite, you may need to work harder.
  • I suggest you begin learning typing on the internet for about 30 minutes daily from day one itself! You will thank yourself (and me) for it in about 2 months. Also learn MS word, Excel etc. and find out why Gmail is better than Yahoo mail or for that matter why Gmail is the greatest monopoly in the WWW today or why tab browsing is better than window browsing!


  • By now you should be knowing  how to customise Firefox (add ons, customizing the toolbar etc.) or any other browser for that matter. You should be able to customize your desktop themes and do other tweaks on your system (my favourite add-ons on Firefox are fastdial, McAfee SiteAdvisor, Cooliris, Lastpass, CoolPreviews, PDF download, VodPod and download statusbar). Firefox is simply awesome when you get some add-ons for yourself!  You may want to learn some HTML on the net too. You should consider blogging and start a blog on WordPress or Blogspot/Blogger (WordPress is better). Learn how an RSS reader (like Google reader) makes surfing so easy for netizens!

  • You should be using or knowing about a lot of services freely available on the internet such as Orkut, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Picassa, Twitter, Delicious, Digg, WordPress, Blogger, RSS, You Tube, Second Life, Google Earth, Scribd, esnips, Wikipedia and the like. If these names sound unfamiliar to you, you are just not up to par!  Also, If you are a rich person, please consider donating to Wikipedia.

  • So, you want to download movies/games now?! You may learn how to download movies/softwares on the internet (bittorrent)! Read about bittorrent on the internet, download a good bittorrent client like bittorrent or utorrent and visit sites like Mininova or Btjunkie for the same if you have high speed connection. But please note that Warez (copyrighted material @ peer-to-peer file sharing) is illegal and such downloads in advanced countries (not India or the third world) may land you in the soup!
  • You are still reading it! Come on, get yourself a pupil. You are a pro now! Really?! No! Probably nobody is a pro in this ever-evolving field; keep learning lest you be outdated! I am learning and it is a continuous process. There is so much I don’t know.

  • Finally, remember that the computer/internet is ‘time waste’ in more ways than one. Some people know little, yet do their work effectively while some (which to some extent includes me) waste their time in attempting to know more and more.
  • User discretion is advised with computers. From movies to internet, computer offers vast incentives for self ruination! I have realized it, better late than never. You can thank me for the caveat! When I didn’t had one, I was dying for one; while I have one, it is killing me!

Phew! That was almost 1500 words! Do you have anything to say or ask? Feel free to comment. I will reply ASAP.

Update 30 January 2009: You may also read Ashish Gupta’s recommendations on free softwares on internet.

Also read the the Essential Guide to Internet & Software for First-Time Computer Users.

vikas VIKAS.


7 Comments Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Vikas Gupta says:

    Dear Ms. Reeta (Skeety),

    I am also not very fond of it. I was very hostile to it but now I have adapted and it works fine!

    XP is still preferred by many (including corporations) across the globe. But all good things must come to end, as they say.

    Let’s hope Windows 7 – the next release of MS is not a letdown like Vista! Amen!


    P.S.: I am glad you visited my blog. You are a ‘blog guru’, so to speak!

  2. roponryescacy says:

    Heyyy! GREAT POST!!

    Thanks 🙂

  3. oneness says:

    Hi Vikas, It is always good to start from scratch when you present something to the newbies. I like the way you have written this article starting from buying the computer. Very few will think on these lines. Good effort. Keep it up!

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