Since Feb. 1994 to supply usable introductions, tutorials, and education on technical subjects to the large audience of computer users.

PC Lube and Tune

The cell phone that you carry around with you has hundreds of times as much power, memory, and storage as the mainframe computers that ran any Fortune 500 company thirty years ago. It is a real computer, although it pretends to be a consumer device. You don't need to know anything about computers to use a phone, tablet, or laptop any more than you need to understand the internal combustion engine to drive your car to work. However, computers are an increasingly important part of our lives and learning just a little bit about them may be important too.

There are a few basic concepts hidden in a mass of technical detail. The purpose of PCLT is to explain some of these things in language that anyone can understand if they care to learn more about how stuff works.

Articles are available on:

An Introduction to PC Hardware - The PC may say Dell or HP on the outside, but inside it is assembled from a dozen standard components manufactured by companies whose names you have never heard. To make the parts interchangeable, all the standards are public. You can learn as much as you care to about how it all works and what the buzzwords really mean. No prior knowledge is assumed, and everything is explained in simple, clear terms.

Computers, Video Files, and HDTV - Just as the old LP record has been replaced by CDs, and the VHS tape is being replaced by DVDs, so the cable companies and TV broadcasters are moving to the digital transmission of TV programs, and consumers are adopting devices that digitally store TV programs on hard disks. This article has no sales pitch. It doesn't talk about makes, models, or program packages. This is strictly about how things work. How does a conventional TV work? What are the differences between a TV and a computer monitor? How does digital TV broadcast work? What kinds of hardware connect your PC your TV set? If nothing else, after reading this article you will realize just how little those sales clowns at Circuit City really know about the stuff they are selling.

Character Encoding and Web Standards - The Web displays information in French, Hebrew, and Japanese. All national character sets can be embedded in the HTML and XML Web standards. The exact details about how this is done are fuzzy to most people in the US. They may even be hidden from people in specific foreign countries who use a Web editor customized to their local character set. This article is an attempt at a definitive explanation, accessible to everyone, of the standard, the problems, and the possible solutions.

Exception Handling in Java and C# - Every time the industry moves to a new language or runtime environment there is a tendency to forget everything we already know about good program design. This paper proposes "best practices" for program design in the new languages. It is based on some basic principles of practical Software Engineering that don't change with the latest fashion. Rather than just declaring that one technique is "good" and the other is "bad", this paper explains every decision with concrete examples and clear arguments. Exception handling isn't an afterthought that you throw in reluctantly after everything else has been coded. It should be a central element in any professional component design.


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