A22.0004 Fall 1997

Computers in Principle and Practice

New York University


Important dates

Mandatory Course Materials

(Section 1, 2, 3 and 5 ONLY!)

1. Word 6 for Macintosh
Visual Quickstart Guide
by David Crowne
Peachpit Press
ISBN 1-56609-125-X, $13.95

2. Excel 5 for Macintosh
Visual Quickstart Guide
by Maria Langer
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-88358-9, $16.95

3. HTML for the World Wide Web (2nd Edition)
Visual Quickstart Guide
by Elizabeth Castro
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-68862-X

4. PageMill 2 for Macintosh
Visual Quickstart Guide
by Maria Langer
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-69402-6, $15.95

Part of this course is to expose you to the exciting, current developments in the world of computers and the Internet, especially in the areas of technology, business, copyright, civil liberties, privacy and encryption. To that end, you will be asked to read the articles in every Monday's New ;York Times Business section, and the articles in every Tuesday's New York Times Science Section. These will be discussed in class, and form the basis of test questions. These articles are also available on the Times' Web site for a period of about two weeks from the time of publication. That addres is:


You will also need a small supply of 3 1/2 inch diskettes. You will need to
store all your assignments and course work on diskettes. Although you can
write to the hard disks of the machines in the labs, you cannot be sure that
you will have access to the same machine the next time you enter the lab,
you need to store your work on diskettes. You should purchase "High Density"
diskettes. It is possible to buy diskettes that are pre-formatted for the
PC, and also diskettes that are pre-formatted for the Apple computers. It is
slightly more convenient to purchase diskettes that are pre-formatted for
whatever machine type you will be using, but you can always format (i.e.,
initialize) the diskettes yourself. Note that the Apple computers can read and
write diskettes formatted in the DOS standard. So if you are using both
Apple computers (like at the labs) and IBM PC-compatible computers, then you
might consider using DOS-formatted diskettes.

Here is a very important suggestion. Mark one diskette as your "Safety
copy." Then, use other diskettes to store your work, but always update your
safety copy with a copy of whatever you are working on. This way, you will
have two current copies, one on your current diskette, and one on the safety
copy. The safety copy will contain all your assignments and past work. It is
a very good idea to have two copies of everything, because sometimes
diskettes go bad, and you can't access files on the diskette.

Instead of diskettes, you might want to use "Zip Drive cartridges." A Zip
drive cartridge is like a diskette, but can hold 100 MB, which is like 70
regular diskettes. Later in the course you might be making some large files,
and so a Zip drive cartridge would be handy. All of the Apple computers in
the NYU Multimedia labs have Zip drives. A Zip drive cartridge costs
under $16.


Apple computers with all software packages pre-installed will be made
available to you. Theoretically, you do not need a home computer nor do you
need to purchase any software. However, you will be learning how to use
various software packages, and if you have a home computer, you may want to
have access to the software at home. In this case, you must purchase your
own copy.

We will be using software from the Microsoft Office suite of applications
(the "Standard" package, not the "Professional" package). This software
costs about $150, which is at the educational discount price, and is
available at the NYU Computer Bookstore. There are various versions
available. It of course only makes sense to buy the latest version, although
in class, we may not use the most recent version. The latest version is
"Microsoft Office 97," which is available for Windows 95 and Windows NT for
IBM PC-compatible machines, and is supposed to be available for Apple
computers "in the near future." For a Windows 3.1 machine and for Apple
Macintosh machines, the latest version of Office is Office 4.2, which
includes Word 6.0 and Excel 5.0. In class, and at the labs, you may be using
this older version of the software. There are differences, but the
differences are not terribly important to the course. There is an issue of
compatibility. Files that you write out using Microsoft Office 97 might not
be readable using older versions of the Office applications. It will be
explained in class how to get around this difficulty.

We will also be making use of Netscape Navigator 3.0 & 4.0. This software is
available for free for educational purposes, which is the purpose we are
using it for. This software is useful only if you have a network connection,
either at the lab, or at home through a "PPP" connection.

We will also make use of a product by Macromedia called "Director." This is
a very sophisticated and expensive software package, and you will most
likely not want to purchase your own copy, unless you have a home business
as a graphic artist. The "Multimedia machines" in the Education building
laboratory will give you access to this product. Finally, there is a Web
Authoring package called Adobe PageMill 2.0, which we have available for the
Macintosh, but which can also be purchased for Windows.

Other textbooks

The following additional books by Peachpit Press could be very helpful:

4. Director 5 for Macintosh
Visual Quickstart Guide
by Andre Persidsky
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-88642-1, $18.95

5. The Little Mac Book (fourth edition)
by Robin Williams
Peachpit Press
ISBN 1-56609-149-7, $17.95

6. Netscape 3 for Macintosh
Visual Quickstart Guide
by Elizabeth Castro
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-20169048-5, $16.95

The cost of the supplementary books will be about $50, on top of the $60 for
the required textbooks. We realize that this is a lot of money, and this is
why these books are optional. There are many other books that cover the same
topics, and you are welcome to explore other computer books. However, you
should be aware of the fact that not all books are equally good. Just
because a book says it covers Word 6.0, doesn't mean you will learn much by
buying it.

Home computers

Many students will have access to home computers or computers at work. It is
fine to do your assignments on whatever resources you have available. Of
course, you will also need access to the appropriate software (a recent
version of Word, a recent version of Excel, etc.) In the first half of the
course, most assignments will be turned in by printing out a document, and
turning in the printout with your name written on the paper. In some cases,
you will need to pick up a file from the lab computers (or off of the
Internet using a World Wide Web address), but you are not required to do
your assignment at the NYU lab. You may find it advantageous to visit the
lab, since there will be a tutor available at times, and other students can
sometimes assist you with general features of the programs. It is also
unlikely that you will have access to the Director program except at the

Some students decide to purchase a computer while taking this course. Since
you have computers available to you at the labs, it might be advisable to
wait until later in the course, when you have more experience and
information about your options. Many people like the idea of owning a
laptop. However, for the same money, you can get about twice as much
computer by buying a desktop. You do not need to bring a computer to class.
However, you do need to be prepared to spend lots of time in the computer
labs or on your home or business computer.

About the course

There are several goals to this course. The title "Computers in Principle
and Practice" is intended to emphasize the two important elements of the
course: Learning how to use computers and understanding the concepts behind
them as well. In this course, we will talk about (and demonstrate) the use
of word processors, spreadsheets, databases, publishing tools, web development and
multimedia aids. In addition, we will tell you something about hardware and
history of computing. The development of computer technology is one of the
great stories of the Twentieth Century. An educated citizen should know
about computers. However, being familiar with advanced aspects of word
processing and spreadsheet applications should assist you in many
occupations and endeavors for years to come.


Your greatest reward is the knowledge and experience that you receive by
taking the course. You will also receive a grade. The assignments (see
below) will count for 50% of the grade. The midterm will count for 20%, and
the final exam counts for the remaining 30%.


In all, there will probably be about eight or nine assignments. It is important not
to get behind in turning in assignments. If you do get behind, we still want
you to do the assignment, so it is better to turn in a late assignment than
to skip it. However, late assignments will be severely penalized, and may
not be graded except to note that the assignment was turned in.
Assignments that you turn in should be your own work. It is fine to talk to
other students and to get assistance in how to do something, but you should
not ask your fellow students to actually do the work for you. When you turn
in an assignment, you are saying that you have done this work yourself. The
definition of plagiarism is to present someone else's work as though it were
your own. Do not do this.

Using the computer facilities

The main computer lab is in the Education Building, at 35 W. 4th Street, on
the second floor. There is also a lab in the North Dorm. There are other
labs, although those are the main two with Apple computers. You use your ID
card to gain access to the computer labs. Stickers on your ID card are not
required. Because you have registered for this course, you will be able to
use the computer labs at any time they are open, including during the
restricted hours. To use the Multimedia machines, you also use your ID card
to gain access, but you will also need to know the user name and password of
the class account. Your instructor will give you the user name and password.
At the computer lab, you will also request an Internet account. Forms will
be provided for this purpose, which you submit at a computer lab. An
Internet account is also called an "IS Account" because the names of the
machines are is, is2, is3, etc.

You will also be given a "PPP" account, which will allow you to log onto
your "IS account" from any computer with a modem, such as from your home
machine. You are not required to use this account, but might be useful for
checking email and surfing the Web, for example.


Here is a little more information about the course material. You will be
encouraged to use the computer as much as possible, because this will be
useful for you in your college career and beyond. The practical goals of the
course are to teach you:

* Basic operating system skills
* Word processing
* Spreadsheets and databases
* Internet tools
* Web authoring
* Databases
* Multimedia (using "Director" and/or GIF Animation)

In addition, we will explain how these programs can interact. You will be
encouraged to view the Internet as a resource for exploring, learning, and
research. At the same time, we want you to understand some of the components
of the computer and of the networks that connect computers. Comprehension of
the components will perhaps someday enable you to exploit computers in ways
that others have not yet invented, and give you an advantage in business or
in your endeavors.

An EXTREMELY important part of the course will be to keep track of the Class
Web Page. This is available by accessing the Computer Science Department
Home Page at:

From there, choose "Course Home Pages" and then "Fall 97" and then "A22.0004".
After the first few days, very few paper handouts will be given. Most
information, including assignments, will be posted on the class Web Page,
and you will be responsible for reading. The exact address is: