Welcome to the first ‘PuterTutor article of 2013. Now the festivities are over we can return to our computers with a renewed sense of eagerness to learn a bit more than we did last year! To kick us off I thought I would answer some of my most frequently asked questions from 2012

What is cloud computing?

A simple definition is computer resources made available over the internet. In a business scenario this could be accessing software programs from a computer located in another office. The more common home scenario is cloud storage. This is where your files or copies of your files are saved on a computer somewhere on the internet, thus allowing you to access them from any computer. If you have an iPhone for example and take photos on it, using iCloud these photos can automatically be access from your iPad or Apple computer. You can also synchronise files between home and work computers.

What does synchronise or sync mean?

To sync is to match up 2 or more computer systems. You may “sync” your phone with your computer to transfer copies of photos located on the phone onto your laptop. Or you may sync your mp3 player to put new music on it. You may also sync your calendar between your phone, PDA or laptop.

What are MegaBits and Gigabytes?

MegaBits or MBits/sec is the measure of the speed of data transfer, i.e the speed of your internet connection. This is on average somewhere between 2 and 20 Mbits/sec. This differs from Gigabytes (GB) and Megabytes (MB). These refer to the storage capacity of your computer or sometimes the amount of RAM (multitasking ability) your PC has. There are 1024 MB in 1GB and 1024GB in 1 Terabyte(TB). My rule of thumb when purchasing a new PC is above 4GB for RAM and 500GB for hard drive space.

What is a plug-in?

A plug-in is a little program that adds extra features to your internet browser (internet explorer, chrome or firefox). Once you allow it (often you get a flashing bar asking your permission to install)the plug-in will run when necessary to improve your experience on a website. Java (those annoying updates!) is one of the main plug-in languages. As plug-ins are an easy gateway for viruses to enter your computer it is important to keep your Java and Windows up-to-date.