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A computer is a machine that processes digital data. A technology system is the complete
collection of components (hardware, software, peripherals, power supplies, communication links)
making up a single computer installation. All sectors use technology systems.
Computer aided design/manufacturer is a technology system that designs component parts on a
computer which are sent to design robotic tools to manufacture the parts. Point of presence are
computerised tills that work with databases to keep stock track and constantly updates, robots
are great as they are fast, accurate, never bored and can work in dangerous conditions.
Construction planning projects, creating architect drawing (CAD) and tracking spending
Finance follows stock and share prices, calculates interest rate effects on loans and savings
Health scans patients, monitors life support patients heart beats, breathing and processes
Manufacturing CAD/CAM systems design production and robot control parts,
Retail tracks till sales, using point of sale systems automatically update stock records and
produce reports, also uses the internet to advertise and sell products
Though technology systems and video conferences help by decreasing travel needs, technology
systems are turned on all the time which causes waste electricity and heat. Online shopping is
similar as this requires travel for delivery even if you directly do not have to do so.
Malware like computer viruses, worms, spyware and Trojan horses are common as they try to get
a financial gain or obtain sensitive information. Personal data in computers transferred across the
internet have similar issues. Computer security is used by organisations to protect computers from
attacking privacy; this includes passwords and setting different levels of access. It is illegal to
download information protected by copyright.
Improving technology systems ensures a competitive advantage as customers want the best, it
also reduces costs and improves performance.
Personal computer processor type, processor speed, RAM size, operating system type, network
connectivity (wireless or wired) and storage size, runs apps like word processors and spreadsheets
Server lots of RAM and disk space, powerful PC, used for controlling a network
Laptop portable computer, used for mobile computing
Tablet touch screen computer, usually portable, does web browsing
Games console a computer designed for gaming, has a high quality graphics card, allows gaming
Programmable digital devices (a microwave) this is anything with digital control, controls
Input devices put data and commands into a computer, this includes keyboard, mouse, sensor,
touch screen, microphone, scanner and camera.
Output devices send information out of the system, this includes printers, speakers, actuators,
screens, projects, force feedback and robot arms.
Storage devices hold information and data when the system or device is turned off, this includes
solid state, optical media (CDs) and magnetic media.
Most technology devices are multifunctional and sometimes are output, input (and storage).
Automated systems are examples of these; they monitor and perform activities on our behalf. This
includes central heating and robots exploring the universe.
Self service checkouts have scales, scanners and payment inputs as well as screens, speakers and
receipt printers. Production lines have optical and pressure sensors to locate and feel components
but they also have to control robots to manufacture components.
Other devices magnetic strip readers read loyalty cards, optical character readers (OCR) scan a
document into text, optical mark readers (OMR) input surveys and multiple choice forms and radio
frequency identification systems (RFID) track and automatically identify products, like bar codes.
These devices have to be suitable for their users and purposes.
Local area network (LAN) connects computers and other devices like printers together at a single
location such as a home or business premises.
Wide area network (WAN) connects LANs together into a single network covering anywhere in the
world, used by organisations.
Personal area network (PAN) connects devices together e.g. synchronising a computer (email) with
a phone)
Mobile network 3G mobile phone technology connects your laptop, using a dongle, and netbook
or phone to the internet
Networks help us to do many things, this includes sharing as they are used to share resources and
data. Network resources include printers, the internet and your document network server space.
Anyone whos logged onto the network with authorisation to access data can. We are also
allowed to communicate via instant messaging, email and video messaging (reducing travel cost).
They also give us entertainment as they provide the infrastructure to connect with people or
online services anywhere in the world. This includes streaming films, listening to live radio stations
and joining in on online gaming and communities and social media sites to keep up to date with
the news. A popular online game is unreal tournament. Parties are often organised where the
guests bring their laptops to play games like need for speed using a LAN.
Networking computers save money and reduces pollution by permitting us to share resources and
reduce travel as employees no longer need to travel to work as they can work from home.
If similar data is on different devices, synchronisation is necessary, this means making the same
data available on different devices, syncing updates the data version. To synchronise, you need
Bluetooth, wi-fi, infrared or cable to connect the devices. To update, they need to be connected to
a PAN. It brings calendars up to date, setting reminders on both, text, email, music, videos and
pod casts (downloads from BBC/Apple permit you to play the pod cast any time on your device)
are also synced.
Physical ways of transferring data between devices use cabled topology.
Optical fibre Fast connections between switches (sockets that are used to plug in the network
cables) in a network to bring broadband to buildings and businesses. Fast but not easy portable.
Unshielded twisted pair (UTP) connects computers and printers with switches in LANs with
CAT6/5. Not very good at high speeds but a good all rounder.
Coaxial cables (coax.) connects homes to optical broadband systems, the older type used copper
which was slow. Coax is good for short distances but not for long distance.
Wireless methods do not need wires. Wi-fi and Bluetooth are popular examples. Wi-fi is built into
every laptop for connection to LAN. Many printers have Wi-fi also built in, as do some computers,
alternatively, those without it built in can get a wi-fi network card installed or connect via
universal serial bus. Wi-fi needs a wireless access point (WAP) which is sometimes part of a router
and acts like a switch.
Bluetooth is short range and slow wireless technology built into phones to connect mobiles to
headsets and for data transfer like MP3 music between phone and computer.
The motherboard printed circuit board (PCB) holding main components of the component.
Central processing unit takes input/output operations, runs instructions in the computer
Arithmetic and logic unit (ALU) does basic calculations and comparisons, the comparisons help
sort and search.
Control unit machine code instructions are extracted from memory and decoded to run. The
output is then either written to the register or back to the main memory. The control unit makes
the rest of the computer hardware do whatever is the result of the completed instruction.
Registers several types of register are in the CPU, they store a small amount of data in bytes.
They also hold addresses.
Memory the RAM holds all programs started and opened documents, so the CPU can access
them. A large amount of RAM allows you to have lots of apps open at the same time and to edit
large files like music or video easily.
Graphics card (video card) makes visual images displayed on a monitor.
Sound hardware used to send sound signals to speakers, this is usually built into the
Heat dispersal the fan and heat sink are needed by the CPU and other hot parts of the computer
so they dont burn out.
Storage devices a solid state/magnetic drive is needed to keep programs and documents when
the computer is turned off. Large storage is needed for videos which are large files.
Optical drive uses laser light to read data from CDs and DVDs, the optical drive is used to install
new software and make backups.
The hard drive of a computer is the storage device used to load programs into RAM so the central
processing unit can run them. The ALU, registers and control unit are within the central processing
unit. SIROARC shows the order in the CPU:
The storage device is also used for documents these are
copied into RAM when opened or to storage when saved.
The CPU and graphical processing unit run instructions
and complete instructions. The speed these instructions
and calculations take place and the synchronisation of
the components within the processor are measured by a
clock. Microprocessors require a fixed number of clock
cycles. Clock speed is measured in megahertz MHz or
gigahertz GHz. The faster the clock speed, the better the
performance of the computer and the more instructions
can be executed.
Processors have multiple processing cores, each of these
are able to run codes independently so the more
processors equals the more code, this makes programs run faster and user experience better.
Cache memory is used between a slow and fast device to make them both run quickly. The fast
device writes or reads to/from the cache memory and the slower device updates. It is a fast
memory that is used as a data buffer between the CPU and RAM.
Microprocessors generate lots of heat so heat sinks and fan heat dispersal systems are very
important. The power supply unit needs to produce enough energy (watts) for all computer
components. Data buses are circuits connecting one part of the motherboard to another, the more
data bus can handle at one time (capacity) the faster it allows information to travel between
components ad therefore the better the computer performance, internal buses handle data
transfer within the computer, external do it between computers.
Random access memory, read only memory and cache are solid state so they are microchips
without moving parts.
RAM stores programs and data the CPU is processing and the user has accessed. PCs, laptops and
some game consoles sometimes use dynamic RAM which needs a constant electrical power source
to store data, when the device is off, the datas lost. ROM always keeps the memory; it is used for
booting up a PC.
Mobile phones, digital cameras and some game consoles use static RAM, this uses a type of
transistor that retains its state (on or off) and stores data, regardless of whether or not the power
supply is connected. Static RAM is more expensive and physically larger than dynamic however it
uses less power and is faster thus is better suited for smaller, portable devices.
Storage devices keep data and documents saved from RAM, so when the computer is off, they are
safe for later use. They also keep programs for loading into RAM when they start thus the CPU can
run them. It is the combination of the performance of different components and hardware
devices that determine the overall cost and performance of the computer.
- Hard disk drives (HDD) are magnetic media which uses tiny magnetic spots on a disk
surface to store data. The disk spins round using circular tracks to organise the magnetic
spots with a read/write head moving over the disk between the tracks.
- Solid state drives (SSD) store data in flash memory microchip which contain transistors
that do not change off or on and store the data even without a power supply. Though HDD
are both larger (capacity) and cheaper, SSD are increasing in popularity and are the same
physical size as HDD with the same connections and functions however they do not have
any moving parts and are faster, quieter and more reliable than HDD.
- USB drives are a similar storage device, using flash memory however they are slower and
less reliable than SSD.
- Optical drives like CDs and DVDs are used to install new software and make hard disk
Technology systems and devices are used to communicate and share data, though the
components are similar, the way they are used and perform is different. Mobile device features
affect performance and user experience. Powerful features reduce battery life but provide a
better experience.
System on a chip (SoC) technology combines the CPU and GPU for mobile devices on a single chip.
This makes the device smaller, easier to manufacture, faster and needing less power. Battery life is
important as they need to last more than a day, preferably a week, recharging takes time and
reduces mobility. Designers have to have a fair mix of performance power and battery life.
Traditional performance like desktop PCs have a mains supply constantly providing energy, this
means little cost is involved in running a powerful computer, size and weight are also not
important as the device is not portable anyway.
Analogue data is represented by an electric signal that, for internet users, travels down standard
telephone lines. The signals are natural and continuous like the human voice and music. Devices
include sensors, microphones, headphones and speakers. They are often converted to digital
signals so computers can process and interact.
Digital data is not constant; it is very jolty and stop-start devices include digital cameras, mobile
phones and computing devices. It is data transmitted or stored using bits and bytes, the
transmissions can check for errors so distortion never occurs in the transmission, Computer can
encrypt data (protect with a series of passwords) so its more secure and hard to understand if
someone intercepts the data.
Digital data in computers is shown by the figures 0 and 1. Binary works well in all parts of the
computer; in RAM it is represented in transistors with 1 referring to on and 0 as off. Hard disk
drive has 1 as North and 0 as South. DVD binary shows the reflective disk side as 1 and 0 to the
plain side.
Binary is a base 2 number system as it only consists of 0 and 1, denery consists of numbers 0 - 9
which is base system 10. Bit is a place where a 0 or 1 is kept, they are usually grouped in eights to
make bytes.
Example of binary:
8 4 2 1
2 0 0 1 0
5 0 1 0 1
10 1 0 1 0
Binary used to be in 8-bit or 16 bit (16, 8, 4, 2, 1) however, lately its been extending to 32 bit or 64
bit which have more memory. A word is a term used to describe the number of bits used by a
processor. It is a fixed amount of binary bits that the CPU handles. Processors run instructions that
are a fixed length, usually corresponding with the word size or fraction/multiple of each word in
the clock cycle. Word length is important since it affects the processing power of a computer. The
larger the word the greater the processing power of the microprocessor and the more memory
can be addressed.
Ascii is a system used to represent binary formatted characters. It uses byte values 65-90 to
represent letters A-Z, 97-122 to show a-z and other punctuation marks as well as 48 - 57 to show
numbers 0-9.
Bytes are used to describe the size or capacity of memory and data storage. Kilobytes have 1000
bytes in them (1024 exactly), megabytes have a million bytes, gigabytes have a thousand million
bytes, terabytes have a billion bytes and petabytes have a thousand billion bytes.
Software is any program that can be run on a computer containing a microprocessor. When
software runs, it directs the operation of the technology by controlling the processing and
peripheral devices. Off the shelf software is cheap, instantly available, well tested and bug free,
they have good support as well. Examples are Microsoft, Office apps like Adobe and Photoshop.
Custom made software are programs written specifically for a client to meet a certain need, this
means that they come out perfect, however, they take months to write and are quite expensive.
Operating systems have several functions:
Managing files by copying, deleting and renaming files and using folders
Managing hardware by loading programs, allocating them resources and using drivers to link to
specialist hardware such as a video card.
Allocating resources by sending keyboard/mouse inputs to programs as well as accessing other
resources like printing and the hard disk
Handling security issues such as restoring points to return system files and settings back to an
earlier state, backups and access to files when multiple users share a PC.
Operating systems may include utility applications, which are small programs designed to improve
system performance.
Disk defragmenters make hard disks run faster as deleting a file creates a gap on the drive which
can be used when another file is saved, if the new file is too big, it fragments to a new gap.
Defragmentation rewrites files, bring them together to make the hard disk run faster.
Software firewalls stop unwanted traffic from the internet entering the computer. Anti-virus
software prevents malware from entering a computer, it also scans the computer and connected
devices to check that no malware has gained access.
There are two ways users can interface with computer operating systems and other applications,
either using a graphical user interface or a command line interface. GUIs have a mouse easier to
control the computer with, they use click on icons so starting actions is easier, they can be
configured to magnify the screen, speak documents to you or recognise voice commands, they
also have drop down menus so the user only has to select. There is also a search box, so the
operating system automatically finds the file for you leaving less manual searching. Whereas you
have to type in CLI commands into a prompt.
Mobile devices also have operating systems, these are optimised for user interface, accessibility
and ease of use, they are usually touch screen with voice recognition. Accessibility on mobile
devices can be enhanced with on screen readers and magnifiers. The operating system for a
modern mobile phone may be Android, BlackBerry or IPhone etc.
Productivity applications are software programs written to improve efficiency and effectiveness of
everyday tasks. Software application, typical tasks
Word processor - business letters, reports, coursework used in offices (home office software can
be purchased individually or as a suite)
Spreadsheet - cash flows, what if analysis, charts used in offices (HOS)
Database - storing records of staff, stock and customers for office work (HOS)
Presentation - creating presentation slides and rolling displays for office work (HOS)
Graphics - creating logos and editing photographs
CAD package - producing accurate drawings, floor plans and to design components and buildings
Multimedia - making animations and cartoons
Web-authoring - creating websites and uploading sites
You need to decide whether to install/upgrade a system or not. The application needs to be
compatible with your operating system.
Hardware technology system - the computer CPU, video system, amount of RAM and free disk
space need to be good enough for the new software else the installation will fail.
Accessibility features - if the user finds this important, they should check the software to see if its
included or not.
Cost of the software - the full cost includes licenses needed for all computers plus the cost of
setting the software up, training the staff and paying for support and maintenance.
Speed - running new software on old hardware will make a difference, slow software affects the
user experience and reduces productivity.
Security features - organisations need to understand security features and install firewalls and set
up permissions for team members.

A hierarchical structure is for software in a computer system. High level language and low level
language programs are compiled into machine code then executed by the CPU to control the
computer hardware and display the user interface.
When an application is running, the user interface is what you see and interact with by typing or
using buttons. Application software packages are created by programming with a high level
programming language and are used to solve problems and entertain.
High level language is similar to human language. It is good as programmers find it easier to read,
write and maintain. However, the computer needs high level language to be translated. There are
different types of high level language like C# and Java. Microsoft and office applications like
excel, offer high level programming functionality using visual basic for application (VBA) which
allows users to add automation to office documents by creating macros.
Low level language codes are closer to machine codes, so the processor can run them with a few
small changes. They are written using an assembler which is a programming environment
designed to help write these programs. Each command you write gets assembled into the
equivalent machine code instruction, unlike high level language which means a single line of code
compiles into hundreds of machine code lines just so the processor can run the action.
Examples of high level language:
Machine code is binary code that the CPU can understand, before any program you write can run
on a computer, it needs to be translated (compiled or assembled) into machine code. Hardware is
controlled by the software as the CPU decodes each machine code instruction to carry out
Imperative code is used in most languages; each program statement is a step towards handling the
inputs and processing outputs.
Procedural programs have definite start and end points; they were normal before GUI operating
systems as they have a start point then follow a sequence. Modern programs respond to events so
they can have many points within the code.
Event-driven programs respond to events like a mouse click, these are the current approach for
modern programming as they need to produce responses to the variety of events a GUI operating
system provides.
Object-oriented programs (OOP) view programs as a collection of objects, such as a database
record. Each object may be viewed as an independent machine with a distinct role of
responsibility which is capable of receiving and sending messages to other objects and processing
Mnemonics is assembly language consisting of a large number of abbreviations like MOV (move
instruction). Each mnemonic is equivalent to a machine code instruction. Assembly language is
written using an assembler which helps the programmer check for errors in the mnemonic before
making the program machine code.
Flowcharts help you to design a program. It is a diagram that shows how a program works and the
routes that can be taken through it.
Process - used to represent any calculation or general processing operation carried out by the
Terminator - shows where the program starts and finishes.
Decision box - used in any place where the program makes a test to decide on a choice of
directions to run the next code.
\_\Data (input/output) - represents any part of the program that takes data in or shows prints or
outputs data.
Connector (flow line) - these lines connect flow chart parts with arrows to show the routes or
no arrows to show a downward or right way route.
Variables hold data when a program runs, you can put data in a box move it to another box or
change it. Before a variable is used, it needs to be declared so the program knows the name of the
variable, type of data there and how much of the program can use the variable. This is an example
of a declaration statement in Visual Basic.
The position of the declaration in the program defines the variable scope which can be local or
global. A local variable has the declaration inside the subroutine (A set of instructions designed to
perform an operation within a program) where it can be used. The variable is then local to that
subroutine and cant be used elsewhere in the program.
A global variable has the declaration outside the subroutines at the start of the program. It can be
used anywhere in the program. Some programming languages need global variable declaration
statements to be in a module alongside other parts of the program, such as forms.
An assignment statement in a program is where a variable has a value put inside it or the value
there is changed, for example; VAT = 20. This value will be kept where it is and can be used by the
program, the variable can hold a value that can vary. A constant can only be specified once and is
used to represent a value that wont change - like .
Programs need input information from the user, this makes it perform an output. The input may
be the numbers for a calculation and the output, the result. Subroutines structure the code into
small sections, each subroutine is there for a particular reason. Modern programs naturally
structure themselves into subroutines, as a new one is created every time an event handler is
added to a control.
Software developers annotate code when writing programs to help maintenance, they are
comments written in the code to explain what parts of the program are there and why. It helps
the maintenance and programmers know how things work if they need to edit the code.
Programs use data for calculations, comparisons and for output to various devices. A variable can
be declared to have a data type, including:
Characters - single letters or numbers; R
String - combination of letters, numbers and spaces ; RJ Macey
Integers - whole numbers; 345
Real - numbers with whole and fractional parts; 3.45
Boolean - true or false; TRUE
Programs allow the use of data structures with variables, including records and simple arrays.
Record data structure contains fields to store information in a similar way to a database table.
Array data structure is a variable with many parts - they are like a table with a number of columns
and rows. They also have a number inside brackets (subscript) which is used to identify an item in
the array that may be required.