What do you do when you have a full-time job that is not about fixing computers; you own a home that needs attention all the time and you have to manage the business in the home and the extra time needed to focus on fixing computers isn’t always available. How do you stay hungry? Action breeds action.

Know yourself. Know yourself. My interest in fixing computers is only a small part of my life. It is a challenge every day to stay hungry for more information; more knowledge. The understanding of the workings of computers has never come easy. And my challenge today is keeping that hunger alive. I went from being an occasional computer user at home to finding myself in a forum with some people who eat, sleep and drink computer knowledge. There are those who have a grasp of the workings of a computer that I will never have. So how do I make it all work? How do I keep my hand in the pie when so many others seem to be passing me by? The way I have learned to attack everything when my life seems to get really busy and I am feeling overwhelmed; one piece of knowledge at a time. Or one small project at a time. I have learned a lot about myself over the years. And what is right for some people isn’t necessarily right for me. The way others do things isn’t necessarily the way I need to do things. If this same shoe fits you, wear it my friend. Use it for attacking computers or just plain life in general.

I am not particularly fond of cleaning house. However, the floors still need washing and the furniture needs dusting. So what do I do so I am not living in a pit and become consumed by guilt because I feel I am not keeping up with other housewives. It is called my “one piece of furniture at a time or one room at a time theory”. On weekends I make it a goal to clean one thing in one room at time. Honestly, that often leads to more than one. But the goal is just one thing. Action breeds action.

Although I have never applied this theory to fixing computers, it starts today. I have an unorganized room of non-working computers screaming at me. I have a small Phillips Head screwdriver that should be in my computer tool kit that I can’t find which I use the most often when I attack the inside of a computer. I have new, unopened boxes of components that need to find a home. I have CD’s of various operating systems in precarious places. And I have an unanswered situation with my test computer that needs to be rectified. At present, my test computer starts, loads stays on but the screen goes black after about an hour.

Now, where did I put that Phillips Head screwdriver.

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Depending on who you ask, some might say an IT Beginner Essential might be a good computer tool kit. I have been around the computer forum for a year now and thought I would start 2011  with a couple of, what I believe to be, IT  Beginner  Essentials. I would have to say the biggest essential for me today  is “staying power”.  No matter what is looks like, what it sounds like or how you feel about your progress, keep coming back or better yet just stay put.  Even if your computer is working fine and nothing is going on and you feel you have nothing to contribute. You might even find yourself in a holding pattern.  Too many people register and then leave the forum after they have gotten what they needed   There is always so much more to learn. And so many others that can be helped.  And the surface has only been scratched. Even with the basic knowledge that I have acquired over the last year, I have been able to help a handful of people.

The second essential is “Don’t necessarily always depend on others. Learn the benefit of what it takes to google your own solution”. There is a wealth of information on the net.  You may or may not find the answer, but each time you will come a little closer and it serves as an essential tool when others are not always available with a quick answer. And you can always brings questions back to the forum. I have found it good practice to address someone’s computer problem that has been posted on the forum  by going to google and researching the problem myself and offering a solutions by supplying the link that I have found. And occasionally I have hit the mark.  It is fairly easy to google a problem using the actual key words of the problem by including as much of the problem as you can.  For example: monitor screen goes black or what are the computer beeps telling me This way you will always have help available.

And last but not least, I do have a computer tool kit.  That goes without say. Once you find the solution you go about fixing it and a good tool kit  provides  essential hand held tools the savvy beginner can use.

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When I first started the computer forum in January  of this year, I was technically challenged. On a scale of 0 to 10 (0 being totally inept  and 10 being Super Tech) I am now about a 3.  I am not really much further along.  Or maybe I should turn that around and say look how far I have come.  Learning to fix computers is, after all, a crazy hobby. Crazy hobby? I decided to look up the word crazy to see if it fits.  Here are a few of the synonyms I came up with; unwise, silly, senseless, irrational, wild, cracked (informal), stupid, outrageous, outlandish, ridiculous, bizarre, peculiar, weird, eccentric, odd, zany and daft.  I think I like the word  outrageous. The whole idea of my learning to fix computers is “outrageous”.  Yet,  here I am blogging about  it at 3AM because 1) I can’t sleep and  I have committed to myself to blog about my experience and 2) daily employment and life in general has left me little time to blog let alone pursue this computer learning venture.  However, it is written, Faith without works is dead. My faith isn’t dead and neither is my desire to learn. But I digress.

It is sometimes exhausting just fighting off those feelings of being overwhelmed with the technical aspects about the computer.  Technical aspects!!!! Heck, the whole IT (Information Technology) business is technical.  I have spent many a time reading and rereading a post in the computer forum with minimal  comprehension.  But, even now sitting here blogging, I am reminded that this is a journey. Sometimes a journey of baby steps, but a journey none the less. A journey that I have chosen. So what is my hurry, anyway.  And occasionally I have  “light bulb” moments.  In fact, I rely on them and expect them.   Just recently it dawned on me the difference between megabytes and gigahertz. Gigahertz is in reference to CPU clock speed. The CPU(Central Processing Unit), folks, is the brains of your computer. Just a little guy not much bigger than a match book.I was so surprised how small it was the first time I took it out of my computer.  The gigahertz light bulb moment for me came in the revelation  of  “speed” as opposed to megabytes which are units of storage. Computer storage and memory is often measured in megabytes.  I am sure a Super Tech could give a much more superior explanation,  but for this IT beginner, speed and units of measure are something I can wrap my brain around.  I will never complete my computer technical training, but for now this is a good place to halt.  And now for your technical enjoyment,   I have included a couple of test questions courtesy of BEYOUROWNIT  forum.  Feel free to hop  over to the BEYOUROWNIT forum and take a quiz to see how much YOU know.  And stay with me through the months as I work to achieve a technical triumph.

Which Speed Is Faster?
33 Mhz
733 Bhz

. Which Hard Drive Size Is Largest?

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WHAT’S IN YOUR CLOSET?? from this IT Beginner

When my mom passed away many years ago,  my sisters were left with the arduous but lovingly,  painstaking duty of going through a lifetime of her things. Among the many hats that my mom wore,  her  greatest pleasures were derived from sewing, knitting and crocheting.  So, it wasn’t a total surprise when the unearthing of her closet  brought forth skein upon skein of  lively colored yarns impulsively bought and whimsically set aside for a rainy day or a new project.

These pleasures of my moms, I can say without a doubt, were NOT passed on to me.  Oh, I have many talents, but none have fallen to any of these she loved. I was not, I am not now, nor will I ever be into crafts of any kind. No scrap booking, no knitting, no sewing, nada. I rather imagine when  my time is up in this world,  I envision my husband or other family members and  friends sorting through my lifetime of things and, most likely,  happening upon a closet  full of various computer components, parts, wires, notes, tools, case screws, old motherboards, more notes and computer books on how to build computers. Oh! the irony of it all.  How times have changed and I, somehow, have managed to change with them.

I am probably the only person I know who pays people to work on their computers ha!ha!  Well, it’s not quite like that.  But recently, I have purchased 2 custom-built non-working computers for the sole benefit of learning the IT trade.  In fact, I just received in the mail today my brand spanking new Corsair computer power supply to replace a non-working power supply and it was more than I paid for the non-working computer. All right, I know what you are all thinking. However,  I look at these purchases as an investment in my future.  My husband, however, may be viewing them as as a question of my sanity.  But, you see, if I am going to learn, I must have computers to work on. I also bought a non-working Dell laptop and my closet is filling up fast.  So far, my working computers consist of 1 desktop computer with  Windows 7 operating system, 1 test  desktop computer with Windows XP  and an Acer laptop with Windows Vista.

I hadn’t been in the forum very long  when  I posed the question “Is there such a thing as a COMPUTER-IN-A-BOX?”  It seemed as if all the forum members  had built or were building their own computers.  Being new and impetuous and the methodical person that I am (and also wanting to fit in, in a primarily male environment),  I thought, just maybe, there might be such a thing as a computer-in-a box.  Like a model airplane or model car that you can piece together.  Well, folks, I am here to tell you, there is. It is called  a Barebones Kit.  And there you have it. It wasn’t such a stupid question after all.

It is occurring to  me, the difference between my closet and my moms is, when my mom pulled out that yarn, she had acquired years of knowing EXACTLY what could be done with it.  I, on the other hand, am still figuring things out as I go.  As for my closet, hopefully,  I won’t be leaving this world any time soon.  My closet still has a story to tell and it isn’t finished yet.

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NNEP ( NoNewExperiencesPlease)

I was once given the tag NNEP by a man I knew years ago.  No New Experiences Please.  He knew me pretty well~~ I am a member of the  Black and White club after all.  This whole computer adventure has just been bursting with  new experiences. Things that use to make me run the other way, I am now embracing.  So many new experiences that have propelled me so far out of my comfort zone.  And I don’t think that is going to change any time soon.  However,  I am finding the further in I get, the less apprehensive I have become.

Even joining the forum was a new experience; a learning curve.  Thread, what the heck does that mean? I can’t even count the number of times I have been presented with a new term or a  familiar word with a different connotation. There must be some hidden club out there that develops the language.  Post, Public messages, Private messages, Avatar, icons (probably my favorite because I get to play with pictures) , “please enter the URL of your link”.  I now know what a URL is.

I have learned that the Web provides an unending path to a wealth of  computer knowledge right at one’s fingertips. What isn’t readily available on the forum, can be researched again and again just by making  use of  a search engine. The amount of resources that are free just for the searching or asking are just staggering to me; free anti-virus,  free screen savers, free defrag programs, free options in browsers. BeYourOwnIT has free videos and continues to add more.   I have even learned there are free options to Operating Systems other than Windows.  Who would have thought.  What do you want to learn?  If you are persistent and patient  and willing to move beyond your comfort zone, you will find your answers and the forums are great because there are people who give of their time, experience and knowledge freely to answer your questions.  There are even people who are completely self-taught just by taking hold of the resources I have mentioned.

Are you an NNEP who has been apprehensive about crossing  that imaginary boundary that keeps holding you back from a new experience? If I can do this. You can do this.  And soon you will find yourself  disassembling and assembling your computer for the very first time. And maybe our paths will cross in the forum. You will know more about computers than you ever have. But the best and most rewarding part, you  will find yourself having the knowledge to help others.  And for sure,  there will be no turning back and no end to the possibilities. It is amazing what happens when you can step out in Faith.

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To bring everyone closer to where I am today, I have been in the forum for 7 months. During this time I have gone from never looking inside a computer tower (How It All Started-~ remember the computer that wouldn‘t work~ it is now my test computer) to completely dismantling my  desktop computer, taking out every component and becoming familiar with what they are and what they do, cleaning and replacing the cooling compound on the CPU and putting everything back. And to my amazement everything worked.  If I had known I was going to be blogging about it, I would have taken pictures. But for now, you will just have to trust me or you could ask my husband. 🙂

I will never forget when my husband came down into the basement where I was working. The computer case was completely empty, the tower stripped and the makeshift tables that I had aligned in a single row were filled with disassembled computer components. All he said to me was “are you going to put that back together sometime”. I was a little hurt and, if the truth be known,  a little afraid  his implication that it couldn’t be done and I couldn’t do it might be spot on.  He was envisioning that it had now become fodder for the dumpster and I wasn’t too sure at that point that I could dispute him.  What was I thinking. What made me think I could do this. But I did. Slowly but surely just like a jigsaw puzzle every component, wire, connector, processor,  every memory stick, every fan, graphics card, sound card, the power supply, hard drive, CD player, DVD player found its way back into the tower.  I powered it up and with almost subdued elation experienced my first IT victory. This girl had won round 1.  And the best part,  the next time my husband was in the basement,  the tables were clean and the computer working and he couldn’t believe it. What a Kodak moment that was for me.  Boy, if I can do this anyone can.  I have heard it said more than once, if you want to learn to fix computers take one apart and put it back together. My next challenge was my non-working laptop.  And the victories keep coming.

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I guess you could say I have always been a member of the black and white club.  I like it when things are black and white; few surprises. I like  to solve my mystery’s in the latest book I am reading not so much in the work I am doing. Boring I know.     My background is Accounts Payable.  In the accounting field 1+1=2.  And if it doesn‘t, there is a mathematical reason why not and you go looking for it and then you balance. AHHHH! There is such a sweetness to balancing. All is right with the world.  There is no sustained  gray area when balancing numbers.  In accounting, if one has managed to create a sustained gray area then one might be called a creative bookkeeper and that could lead to one wearing a lovely new silver bracelet and a new home behind bars.

But what does all this have to do with my new world of fixing computers.  I call it the exact areas and the gray areas.  Now, if you have been paying attention you will be able to tell which area I prefer up to this point.  I much prefer “exacts”.  However,  I do recognize that if I am to be successful in this new venture and move forward, I will need to prepare myself  for change.

Working with computer components (all the hardware inside the computer) is what I refer to as the exact area.  Looks much like a jigsaw puzzle doesn’t it.  I do have high hopes that someday the specific technical information about computer components that make them the “exacts” will just roll of my tongue.

Components inside the computer all have specific jobs.  Their functionality is to work together to make the computer do what we need it to do everyday; components like a hard drive, CPU(central processing unit or the brains)  power supply, mother board to which all the components connect.  If I haven’t’ connected these “exacts” correctly (1+1=2) they can’t do  their jobs and  specific problems will ensue; they don’t “balance” so-to-speak.  Components are tangible pieces which, at this point in my journey,  I have found  the easiest to  relate to. They have to be the exact components that equal the job and they have to be added or connected correctly.    I heard someone say recently that working with computer components is boring. Ok! So here is where I relate to boring.

The Software and diagnostics side of computers is what I call the gray area; the “grays”.   I find them more nebulas, hazy, harder to pin down.  I view them  as “You might need this and then again it could be this or you might need to do this.” Not as exact if you get my drift.  If you have ever seen computer diagnostics flow charts you will understand my meaning.

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