A22.0004 Summer I 1997

Computers in Principle and Practice

New York University


Nathan Hull

MTWTh 11:30-1:05 Rm. 109 WWH,

Office phone: 998-3152 Rm. 423 WWH

Office hours: TW 1:15-2:15

Assignment submission email address: pap_hull@cs.nyu.edu

Personal email: hull@cs.nyu.edu

Important dates:

Midterm Examination: Thursday, June 5th

Final examination: Thursday, June 26th

Mandatory Course Materials

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

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. Since 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 use 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 something 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. 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, which the computers in the lab have.

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 labs.

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, 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 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:

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 "Summer 97 -- 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


Basic Outline for the Summer


Week 1 - May 19th

Introduction, General Computer Principles, The Apple Desktop, Word and Netscape

Week 2 - May 26

Advanced Word, Web Surfing and Search Engines

Week 3 - June 2nd

Excel, Databases, and Midterm Examination

Week 4 - June 9th

HTML, Graphic Programs and Web Pages

Week 5 - June 16th

PageMill and GIF Animation

Week 6 - June 23rd

Adobe Director, History of Computers, Computer Hardware, and Final Examination