THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB
Most computer systems today come with the hardware and software essentials for home and office already installed, including an operating system, a word processor, a paint program, spreadsheet software such as Excel or Lotus1-2-3, and database software such as FoxPro or Access. All these software packages require or recommend that they be run on more than the standard hardware that comes with most systems: a floppy drive, a hard drive, a color monitor, a mouse, a printer, and a CD ROM drive.
Computer systems can also be expanded to become specialized systems for power-packed applications. Three of the most popular special-purpose applications are Web-authoring software, desktop publishing, and multimedia presentations. This section looks at the hardware and software requirements for each.
Computer hardware and software change frequently, and choices and price ranges abound. Before you purchase a new computer system or a peripheral, research your purchase. Some of your best resources are:
- Other satisfied users, retailers, books, the Internet, and computer service centers
- Trade magazines, such as PC Computing, PC World, Home PC, Computer Shopper, PC Novice, PC Magazine, and PC Today. Look for reviews describing hardware and software, how they work, and popular features.
- Special-interest Web sites such as imaging-resource.com, which focuses on digital imaging, or Tom’s Hardware Guide at www.tomshardware.com, which focuses on hardware.
- Magazine Web sites, including:
www.zdnet.com Severaltechnical magazines
www.cshopper.com Computer Shopper
www.pcmag.com PC Magazine
www.pcworld.com PC World
the shape of the loading ramp, because there is a continuous and gradual change of height over the entire ramp. You can measure the height at any particular point of the ramp, but it is impossible to measure the height at every point of the ramp. Therefore, you are forced to measure the height at only some representative points. Measuring the heights at a series of representative points on the ramp in order to approximately reproduce the shape of the ramp is called Sampling.
Multimedia PC Requirement
Standardizing the requirements of multimedia PCs and devices better ensures that different hardware and software components will be interchangeable and compatible with one another. This provides manufacturers with a general direction for setting goals, provides buyers with some guidelines by which to make decisions, and provides the PC support person with a more informed knowledge base for anticipating what supporting multimedia PCs might entail.
In an attempt to establish some guidelines for a mushrooming multimedia market in the early 90s, the industry established the Multimedia Marketing Council and the MPC (Multimedia Personal Computer) guidelines. Sponsored by the Software Publishers Association (SPA), three levels of standards were developed, the last one being MPC3 released in 1996. SPA has announced that there are no plans for future releases, the MPC3 is mostly outdated. Therefore, we no longer have established standards for the minimum requirements for a multimedia personal computer system. However, because multimedia devices require increasingly immense amounts of secondary storage and processing speed, the more you have both, the better. For example, in order to play a DVD movie on a PC, you will need a minimum of 300 MHz Pentium II to get decent results.
MPC specifications are often still mentioned in hardware and software ads, and they still serve us in several ways. Here is one good example of how these standards can work to your advantage. You want to purchase a CD-ROM drive from one vendor and a sound card from another. You know that there is an audio wire that connects the CD-ROM drive to the sound card so that sound can be piped directly from the CD-ROM drive to the sound card without involving the CPU. You are also aware that there are many variations of