Digital Tools: Hardware
Hardware includes all that computer stuff—the computer itself, its keyboard, monitor, mouse or trackball, and the printer. Chances are you have all that if you’re reading this book. You don’t need the world’s fanciest or most powerful computer to build scrapbooks. And you should know how to make it perform common tasks such as copying, pasting, and saving your work. If you’re a real newcomer to the computer world, consider getting a good book on your particular computer and operating system and working through it before you start scrapbooking, or at least having such a book handy for reference as you go along. The Sams Teach Yourself in 24 Hours series is a good place to begin. It’s not really important whether you use a Mac or a PC. I prefer Macintosh for graphics myself, and you’ll find that many of the screen captures in this book have obviously been taken from a Mac. The software I’m recommending and working with for the rest of this book, Photoshop Elements 3, comes in both Mac and Windows versions. The bottom line is to use the computer you have.
If you’re really a beginner, let’s start here. At its most basic, a computer includes a box called a CPU (central processing unit , essentially the brain of the machine), a monitor (a video display that lets you see what you’re doing), and a keyboard (to input text and commands). It can, however, be a lot more than a "smart typewriter." By adding a mouse, trackball, or graphics tablet with a stylus, you can begin to use the computer as a writing and drawing tool. The mouse or trackball moves the pointer (or cursor) around on the screen so you can easily edit text, navigate the Internet, draw and paint, and so on. Drawing with a trackball is very difficult, and using a mouse isn’t all that much better, so artists often have a graphics tablet and stylus in addition to a keyboard and mouse. The plastic stylus acts and feels like a pen, and is much easier to use than a mouse or trackball for creating and editing artwork or touching up photographs. I strongly urge you to try one at your local computer store and buy it if you like it. I wouldn’t use anything else now that I am used to the tablet. Wacom (http://www.wacom.com) makes high-quality tablets in various sizes.
Computers also need a way to get data in and out, and a place to keep it. These functions are served by an internal and/or external hard drive and some sort of disc reader/writer. Today, software comes on CD-ROMs and your computer likely has a built-in CD-ROM drive. If not, or if you want extra input, you can usually install another CD and/or DVD reader and writer. You can also add bigger and faster hard drives for more data storage, which you’ll probably need if you choose a high resolution camera or scanner.