RISC World

Absolute Beginners

Dave Bradforth

RISC World's new series for beginners continues with a quicky roundup of the essential bits and pieces you'll need to know to get the most from your computer.

Welcome back to Absolute Beginners. We're going through things thick and fast this month to ensure that you've got the foundation necessary for some of the more advanced topics we'll be covering over the next few issues. The structure of these articles will also change somewhat from the next issue, to incorporate elements of both absolute basic material and an introduction to some more complicated topics to push forward your understanding of the operating system or a related subject.

If there's anything you don't understand please let the editor know in the usual way, and we'll consider it for coverage in the next issue of the magazine. As we've said before, RISC World is your magazine so we do need your comments to check we're putting things together correctly.

Understanding the mouse

Unlike with some other operating systems, the mouse is an essential part of the day-to-day process. Without the mouse you won't get very far, and it makes sense to understand the common mouse terminology otherwise it is easy to get confused while installing a piece of software, or perhaps while trying to navigate your way through the operating system.

The mouse buttons are labelled SELECT (the left mouse button), MENU (the middle mouse button) and ADJUST (the right hand mouse button). The SELECT button is, in a nutshell, used for selecting items within either the operating system or a piece of software. For example, to select the text within an Impression document I use the left hand mouse button, hold it down and drag the mouse. The text is highlighted, and the process itself is called selection.

The MENU button opens a menu within either the operating system or the currently active application. If the mouse pointer is on an application icon, an application menu will appear for that title; if the pointer is on a filer icon (such as the CD-ROM or hard disc drive) a filer menu will open and so on. RISC OS supports context sensitive menus, so whenever you press the MENU button a menu will open that relates to whatever the mouse pointer is currently over.

Finally, the ADJUST button is used to perform minor adjustments within the operating system. This may be within an application window; or ensuring that a menu stays open or anything really. The best way to discover what the ADJUST button does is to experiment. However for starters why not try clicking on a Windows scroll arrows with ADJUST instead of SELECT, or how about clicking ADJUST instead of SELECT on a menu item, you could even try opening a directory by double clicking using ADJUST.

Essential Terminology

We'll conclude Absolute Beginners this time with some essential terminology; terms we'll be referring to in each issue and throughout the magazine. If there's a topic you don't understand let me know and we'll explain it both in an email to yourself individually and in the next issue of the magazine; that way we get a friendly Questions & Answers style atmosphere and it may result in the resurrection of the Q&A page.

ADFS - Advanced Disc Filing System. The standard filing system for Acorn computers.

IDEFS - Integrated Drive Electronics Filing System. If you've got an IDE card, or own a RiscStation or MicroDigital computer, the standard filing system is the IDEFS.

MOUSE - The device used to control the pointer on the screen.

HARD DISK - A storage medium, located either in an external case or within your computer; upon which programs and data can be stored to and retrieved from.

FLOPPY DISK - A smaller storage medium, able to contain up to 1.6Mb of data.

GIF - Graphics Interchange Format. A graphic filetype.

JPEG - Joint Photographic Experts Group. A graphic filetype.

PDF - Portable Document Format. A portable document, also called an Acrobat file, can be read on almost any computer.

DOC - A document usually created by Microsoft Word on the PC or Macintosh. Can be read natively by TechWriter and EasiWriter under RISC OS.

That'll do for the moment. Absolute Beginners will be back next time with much more.

David Bradforth

Dave Bradforth