A Column by Andy Anderson
Special Collections, Ekstrom Library

Developing Windows 95 Skills

With the startup this fall of our new Voyager integrated library system, we will have turned a significant page in the computing history of the University Libraries. We will move to a system whose client/server architecture is a complete departure from the mainframe/dumb terminal we've known as Rachael and Minerva. The change, which will be most noticeable to the user, however, will be the switch from a text-based to a graphical user interface (GUI).

This change comes hard on the heels of the installation of the first Windows-based PC's in most of our units and departments of the library. Many of us haven't had time to get comfortable with our new Windows 95 machines, yet we'll need Windows skills to operate efficiently and effectively on Voyager. Fortunately, Windows 95 has been around long enough for others to have faced this problem and to have devised solutions which can help us develop our skills.

There is, for instance, an excellent, self-paced Windows 95 tutorial built into every PC, which is running the operating system. To run this tutorial, click on the Windows 95 Start button, select Help and then click on the Contents tab of the Help Topics: Windows Help screen. You will be offered choices ranging from a 10-minute tour to a "how-to" section which covers all the basic Windows operations.

Using these screens you will learn the most important fact about Windows - skills learned while using one application apply to all others which run under Windows. That's because most of the features and the ways of accessing them are characteristics of Windows itself rather than unique attributes of the applications. For instance, applications always start from the Desktop and all Windows applications allow the user to cut and paste text, to copy files and to open multiple windows. And most importantly, there are always the same means of accessing these features: (1) through menus which are consistent from application to application, and (2) with mouse operations which are the same and explained in Windows-based help facilities.

To assist you in developing Windows skills needed for the Voyager system, I've located several World Wide Web tutorials and help sites. Tutorials can be found at:

Other Windows 95 help: