I am in French (or history or journalism). Why do I need this course and text?
The premise of The Computer Triangle is that all students today need to understand and use the computer in their college days and later in their professions. Whereas a few years ago this idea might seem overstated, Chapter 1 discusses a survey of teachers in all the disciplines of a large state university that came up with a unanimous view that their students needed an orientation to computers. The book aims to treat how computers are being used productively in all areas of life, as well as to discuss how they affect lifestyles and societal patterns all around us, not necessarily for the good. A guide to the many computing applications in the book is included in the listings printed inside the front and back covers of the book. The societal effects are highlighted with a marginal icon within the text. Chances are that you will find some reference to your major or avocation somewhere in this book.
What is new and cool in this edition?
The most significant addition is the full treatment of the widespread impact of the Internet in all areas of modern technology. New topics have been introduced in every chapter, including multimedia and World Wide Web materials in education, the role of computers in downsizing, Windows 95, Netscape, rapid applications development tools, voice command systems, caller ID services, QuickTime VR, commerce and security on the Internet, implications of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and the possibilities of network computers. Web examples and illustrations are woven all through the book.
If you have access to the World Wide Web, the author and publisher have created a Web site specifically for use with the text. Included there are all of the transparencies that outline material for each chapter for teachers and students. These can certainly be useful for studying for exams. The Web site has two additional kinds of information intended to offer "cool" possibilities for you to get more out of the course, including some fun. The first of these is a set of self-paced Web exercises for each chapter, which expands on a topic in the chapter and leads the student into interesting exercises on the Web itself. For instance, allied with the introduction of personal computer systems in Chapter 1, a Web exercise suggests logging onto a hardware site, one for Intel machines and one for Mac clones, and designing your own computer. There you can pick your own processor and allied equipment (hard drive, monitor, CD-ROM drive, software, etc.) and then see directly online how much it costs. If you need to scale back, you can make changes directly on the Web until it is within your price range. Other Web exercises are intended to be equally informative.
Second, for each chapter, the author has chosen at least ten additional Web sites that may be instructive or fun to visit. They are listed with each chapter with a short description and their Web addresses. With all of these choices, including rock band references and college home pages, you can become an experienced Web surfer without leaving the college computer lab or dorm room, wherever you have access to the World Wide Web. Among them are also the addresses of all the most popular search programs for the Web, so that the possibilities for further surfing are endless. Probably you will find out some information that you never knew existed, maybe even something that will be useful on a test or in a college bull session. Explore the Web and enjoy the journey.
What tips can you give me to help me study the material in the book?
The textbook is designed to be user-friendly. As in the first edition, all technical terms introduced in the text are defined in the margin and listed at the end of each chapter. The glossary at the end of the book lists them all alphabetically. The new Web pages for the book also has all of the definitions listed by chapter and alphabetically by letter -- all directly accessible online. The marginal icons for history, the Internet, and society included in the text point to information about these topics wherever it appears.
Each chapter ends with two kinds of study aids and suggestions for further investigation. First you will find a set of objective questions intended as a self-test of the materials in the chapter, in three formats: multiple-choice, true/false, and fill in the blanks. Since many teachers give objective tests for individual chapters, these review questions and definitions are a good place to start a review. Following these are experiential and critical thinking exercises which suggest broader questions and research possibilities for topics covered in the chapter. If you need to pursue a research topic in more detail, the reference list at the end of the book lists many bibliographical references relevant to these and other topics discussed in the chapter.
As noted above, the Web pages online at Wiley also include all of the transparencies developed for both teachers and students as outlines for the information in the chapters. Included there are many photos and diagrams from the book and even some not in the printed text. For students with Web access, these can become excellent review materials and study aids not available in the book.
Are there any other aids in addition to the text and the Web site that will help me understand the workings of computer hardware and software?
Along with the instructional aids listed above, two other multimedia resources are distributed to teachers on a master CD-ROM for student use with Windows computers. The Passport series, for instance, includes a module called "Tech Tools" with hands-on tutorials on the most popular kinds of productivity software: word processing, spreadsheets, and database management. For hardware questions, the publisher distributes another excellent CD-ROM prepared by PC Computing called "How Multimedia Computers Work." Information is included on the Web site with the chapter transparencies pointing to these materials where they are appropriate with text materials. Ask your teacher about the availability of these multimedia materials for your computer lab.