Computer Guide

How do computers work?

by George Skarbek - 18 November 2008

To look at the e-book in PDF format, Computer Guide, based on these columns click here


Q: I would dearly love to be able to explain to my grand-children, even the computer-literate among them, how a computer works. By that I mean the ability to compress data on a silicon chip and the ramifications thereof. Who made the discovery - and when - etc etc. Do you know of a book or even a magazine article which supplies this information? My inspection of Computer shelves in book-shops has not turned up anything helpful.

A: This is an interesting question and I am sure that not that many readers would be able to give a good answer. To answer it fully in the column would take far too much space and my suggestion is that you look on the web. For a reasonable staring point there is a short video on:  another site is:  a very basic site for kids is: You can even read a full 1979 book at:

If you enter “how computers work” including the quotes into Google you will receive you will find well over 100,000 hits. Without the quotes you will over about 25 million.


Nested Ifs in Excel

Q: I have a cell with a raw number, I then want another cell to calculate according to the following (these numbers are weights.) 
Less than 19 = $20
20-49 = $30
50-100 = $40
Over 100 = $50
 Could you please assist?


A: There are a few ways to fix this problem. Assuming that the weights are in column A then an easy way is in column B to enter this formula and copy it down.
=IF(A1>100,50,IF(A1>49,40, IF(A1<20,20,30)))
Then column B will have your desired answers.


Altering user info in Outlook Express

Q: I am using Outlook Express for my email correspondence. Is it possible to change what appears in the FROM line of my outgoing emails - say instead of an email address appearing, could I change it to a simple name or a nickname?  And can I change the FROM name for individual outgoing messages?   Will the changed name in the FROM section line appear when I reply to an email?

A: It is easy to alter both the name and the e-mail address however, you should not alter the From e-mail address to otherwise your recipients will not be able to click on Reply unless you add our real address in the Reply Address section of the mail setup. Altering the name that is displayed is easy. From Tools, Accounts select your mail account and click on Properties then just alter the Name field.


To look at the e-book in PDF format, Computer Guide, based on these columns click here