CHAPTER 17 HOW DATA GETS INTO YOUR PC

YOU come into direct contact with your PCs keyboard more than you do any other component. You might go for years without ever thinking about-much less touching-your PCs processor or hard drive but most people pay much more attention to those components that they do to the one part of the component than they do to the one part of the computer that determines not how well the computer works, but how well they themselves work.

A poorly designed keyboard acts as a constant stumbling block to productivity and can even cause health problems. A well-designed keyboard is one that you never think about; you thoughts seem to flow directly from your mind to the computers screen without you being aware of what your fingers are doing.

Despite the importance of the keyboard, most manufacturers-and too many users-pay little attention to it. 1996, Microsoft made the biggest change in the keyboard since the function keys move from the left side to the top: Microsofts spli-board design made a concession to ergonomic by splitting the layout in half and angling the halves so they re in line with how our arms rest naturally on a desktop. The design has been widely copied, but its unlikely to complete replace the other arrangement that so many people are used to.

Regardless of changes in layout, the basic way a keyboard works has not changed significantly since the first IBM PC was introduced in the early 1980s.

Unfortunately there is nothing natural or intuitive about a keyboard. No child is born knowing how to type, and even when the skill is learned, theres little sence to it- no one can give a sensible esplanation of why the alphanumeric keys are arranged the way they are.

For many, the keyboard is actually a barrier to learning how to use a computer. Even for the experienced typist there nothing instinctive in pressing F5 to print a file.

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CHAPTER 16 HOW A COMPUTER DISPLAY WORKS

WHEN you read the Sunday funnies you”re looking  at a hardcopy versión of way a computer display graphics. Put a magnifying glass to the color comics and you ll see that they are made up of hundreds of dots, called Ben Day dots. Large red and yellow dots and small blue dots in the same area, and the color becomes brown.

If you look at a comic strip too closely, you see the dots themselves rather than the image they are creating. But hold the comics away from you, and the dots resolve themselves into a single image.

A PC monitor works the same way but uses green instead of yellow, and its additive colors as opposed to printed colors subtractive process. Glowing dots of red, green, and blue chemicals blend into millions of colors.

If you were to study a comic strip and make a meticulous record of the position, size, and color of each dot, you would in effect created a noncomputerized version of the most common form of computer graphics, a bitmap

As its name implies, a bitmap contains a specific map of all the bits of data-location and color information-that create a computer image by changing the colors in specific pixels on a monitor.(Pixel stands for picture elements, the smallest area of a monitors screen that can be turned on off to help create an image.) Bitmaps can be displayed quickly and they re useful when an image is static, as windows icons and wallpapers are.

Windows uses graphics and color, largely in the form of bitmaps, to create an interface between you and the operating system. They don’t simply make windows prettier, they convey more information than black-and-white text.

We saw in Chapter 9 how computers store and display bitmaps and vectors graphics, which can adapt themselves to size changes and the movement that 3D animation requires. Here, we will look at the two most common on way of displaying output from a computer- the super-VGA monitor and the color liquid crystal display-plus a promising display of the future: digital light processing.