Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Student's Reflection on How a Computer Works...

In the first few days of ITA camp, I've learned a lot about computers that I never knew before. For example we learned all about the hardware and operating systems. The hardware has lots of different parts like the monitor, motherboard, CPU, RAM, CD-ROM Drive, Hard Drive, Keyboard and Mouse. Some of the parts of the hardware I was familiar with like the monitor, CD-ROM Drive, key board and mouse.

The CPU (Central Processing Unit) is one of the parts I didn't know much about. I learned that it is responsible for handling all instructions and calculation it receives from other hardware components in the computer and software programs running on the computer.

RAM (Random Access Memory) is the place in a computer where the operating system, programs, and data are kept so that they can be quickly reached by the computer's processor. However, the data in RAM stays there only as long as your computer is running. When you turn the computer off, RAM loses its data. When you turn your computer on again, your operating system and other files are once again loaded into RAM. RAM can be compared to a person's short-term memory and the hard disk to the long-term memory. For example in the summer time you don't see some people from school, and then when u go back and you see them, it takes you a few seconds to remember their name and that's when your long-term memory comes back to your short-term memory.

A Hard Disk (Hard Disk Drive) is your computer's main storage device. It is where you would normally keep your operating system, programs and files.

UNIX is an operating system. Operating systems consist of a kernel and some system programs. The kernel is the heart of the operating system. It keeps track of files on the disk, starts programs and runs them, assigns memory and other resources to other processes. The operating system provides an interface to these parts using what is referred to as "drivers".

A driver is software which understands the operation of the device it interfaces with, such as a printer, video card, sound card or CD ROM drive. It translates commands from the operating system or user into commands understood by the component computer part it interfaces with. It also translates responses from the component back to responses that can be understood by the operating system, user.

I'm glad I got to learn about all the different parts and their duties, because now if any thing ever goes wrong with my computer, I know more about what to check for the problem and what to fix. It was really cool how they compared the system and parts to real life it made it so much easier to understand!