So you've bought your PC this
Christmas and you're getting good enjoyment out of it - excellent!
A thought that often crosses
peoples minds is "What next?" After I got my first computer, I often
felt that I had shelled out loads of money on something I wasn't entirely getting
the best use out of, and I'm sure lots of people feel the same way
So, with that in mind, here's
a little list of things you could take up now that you do have a computer...
Desk Top Publishing
DTP isn't that difficult with a little practice. Even MS Word can belt out some
impressive looking documents. Some of you might be lucky enough to have a copy
of Microsoft Publisher. So instead of going to the printers (and I know the Connaught Telegraph is going to love me saying this), try designing whatever it is you
need yourself first. The Clipart contained within Office is pretty extensive
and new pictures can be downloaded or purchased for a good price. With a little
bit of practice, you could be pleasantly surprised...
It's easy to create new music on a computer - I do it all the time. If you're
a singer, your computer will have a microphone socket somewhere (usually beside
where you plug the speakers in). If you're an instrument player, you can either
mic up the instrument, or (like me) run a line out from your amplifier if it's
electric. This is usually better (and sometimes safer) than plugging the instrument
in directly. You can email your work to your friends/family, record it onto
a CD, play with the sound effects and make your voice sound like something from
distant planets - whatever! There's plenty of software on the market to allow
you to do these sorts of things - Soundforge, Q-Bass, the Ejay series etc. Look
for shareware/freeware versions of these kinds of products on magazine covers.
With Digital cameras becoming more commonplace, you may want to learn a few
simple techniques on how to make your photos look better or how to make a collage
or photo-album. You could take video clips from your camcorder and edit them,
add music to them, draw credits - the list is endless. As above, there are loads
of great packages to help out - Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, even MS Paint if
you're stuck! You'll find that your camera/camcorder probably comes with some
software bundled to let you do the basics. Again, look on magazine covers for
shareware/freeware you can try.
*groan* He's not on about this again is he?
Yes I am! : )
Most of you are no doubt aware that you can play games on your PC. With the
rise of the Internet, you can play against people all over the world. I won't
bore everyone here with the details, so if you want to know more, email me:
Why not open the case and take a look inside? You can't do any damage so long
as you don't start to poke around too much. [Editor's note - ensure that actually opening the case doesn't affect your warranty]. Grab the motherboard manual that
might have come with your PC and learn more about what's what. Try simple tasks
like fitting new RAM, adding a hard disk (and trust me, these really are very
simple once you know where everything goes). Also, learn about printers, scanner
and cameras - these are the most common peripherals that people have trouble
with and when you're done, call out to my Mum who's having a bit of grief with
Learn new skills!!!
I'm a web developer by trade, but pretty much everything I learned about it
is self taught (despite doing computer programming in college). Try everything
once and pick something you enjoyed and felt you were good at. Find some magazines
- there are hundreds of computer based mags around which specialise in certain
areas, be it graphic design, computer programming, hardware etc. You might even
be able to earn a few bob helping people out when they need assistance ;
Good luck with it - don't
be afraid of it! You can nearly always hit Undo...