I had a life once, now I have a computer. Do you also sometimes spend hours on the Internet even though you just wanted to google something but then got from one thing to the next? Or even worse, you simply cannot understand how to do something on your computer or wonder why it does certain things? Nevertheless, we should not forget how much modern technology has made our lives easier.
In the past, when you needed special information you had to go to a library and if you were lucky enough, they had a book or two about this special subject. Today, almost everybody has access to the Internet where you can find any kind of information you might be interested in. And this is just one of the benefits of modern technology.
Jack’s niece Lucy is determined to familiarize her uncle with all this new technology and to broaden his mind a little bit in this way. After having returned from Electronics Paradise and a short nap in the car Lucy is full of energy again and wants to set up the new laptop right away. She goes into the office with her uncle where they put all their packages onto the desk that Lucy has tidied up in the meantime.
Lucy: Come on Uncle Jack, let me show you how to set up your new laptop so that we can use it right away. There are just a few things we have to do. So, let’s unpack the components and I’ll teach you everything. Jack has gone to the fridge in the kitchen in the meantime in order to have a nice cool bottle of beer after all the information he had to process. Now he’s sitting in an armchair next to Lucy who is gabbling on and commenting everything she does on the computer.
Lucy: Look, this is the power cable for our laptop, let’s plug it in and turn it on. Most laptops don’t have a full charge when you receive them. This is why we must charge the battery completely now. First of all, we have to configure a few settings, e.g. what language to use, what network we want to connect to etc. But that’s not difficult, Uncle Jack, because a wizard takes you through this a step at a time. Now we have to sign in with your existing account. We don’t need to create a new one because you have one already. Wow, we’re logged in. Next, we have to connect to a network. Here is a list of nearby wireless networks. Let’s choose the right one because this is how you can get operating system updates, install apps and so on. Following this, we have to type the password to connect. But don’t worry Uncle Jack, locating the password is not a big deal, it’s mostly on your wireless router. Let’s have a look, here we go, we’re connected.
We’re now prompted to download some updates because chances are that the installed operating system and programs have been updated since the computer was built. This is essential for keeping our computer secure. After this the computer has to be restarted to complete the update process. Following this we can start installing the essential programs. New laptops come preinstalled with all sorts of apps and programs. So, the question is, what should we download and what is unnecessary and can we get rid of. There are some games here, Uncle Jack, that you will never play and trial versions of programs you’ll never use, so I’ll uninstall them. But what we urgently need is an antivirus program because it protects your computer against malware and viruses. It is essential because your computer is connected to the internet. What about your favourite browser and a word processor? And we also have the office software consisting of many useful applications, for example to create text documents, spreadsheets or multimedia presentations. Finally, we can personalize your computer now to really make it ours.
What kind of desktop background would you like to have, Uncle Jack? Oh yes and last but not least, let’s not forget to add personal data such as documents, pictures, music, videos or presentations that you want to have available from now on from our new laptop. We can either copy the data to a USB stick or a backup drive or then use the device to copy the data to your new laptop.
Jack: Oh Lucy, I would really be lucky if I only understood half of what you’ve just told me. I don’t care about the background and the apps, it’s you who has to work with them on a daily basis from now on.
Lucy: But Uncle Jack, that’s a very short-sighted point of view. I’m only planning to be here for one year. What will you do afterwards?
Jack: One year is still a long way to go, my dear. Perhaps you can teach me some more things during this time but not everything at the same time.
Lucy: Oh yes, sorry Uncle Jack. Digital natives like me sometimes tend to forget that you digital immigrants might find it hard to keep track of all this. But don’t worry; we’ll manage all this together. Enough for today of all this »techie language«. In the next issue we will have a look into Jack’s workshop which will hopefully look tidier than his office in the beginning. Stay tuned!
Words used for sequencing
When speaking or writing in order to give instructions or information, you should link them with as many different expressions as possible so that your speaking or writing remains interesting and keeps the attention of those who listen or read it. You can do this by using ordinal numbers (first, second, third,…) and adding »ly« at the end, i.e. firstly, secondly, thirdly, etc. This, however, is only useful for short lists of instructions with no more than three or four items because otherwise it will no longer sound natural in spoken English.
»Firstly, sign in with your account. Secondly, connect to a network to access the internet. Thirdly, install essential apps and programs. Fourthly, add your personal data and finally/lastly secure your laptop.«
Note that the final instruction is usually »finally« or »lastly« and not a number. For more complex instructions or information you should use one of the following:
Beginnings: (zuerst, am Anfang ...)
- at first
- first of all
Middles: (dann, danach ...)
- after this
- following this
- when you’ve done this
- at this point
Endings: (zum Schluss, als letzes ...)
- last but not least
Giving instructions in English
Instructions tell people what is necessary to do, what is wrong or what is not necessary.
- You have to...
- You must/mustn't...
- You should/shouldn't...
We use »have to / must / should« + infinitive to talk about obligation (Verpflichtung), things that are necessary to do, or to give advice (Rat geben) about things that are a good idea to do. »Must« and »have to« are both used for obligation and are often quite similar. They are both followed by the infinitive (Grundform).
- I must go now. / I have to go now.
- He must go now./ He has to go now.
»Have to«changes in the third person singular (he/she/it has); but »must« doesn’t change. It’s a modal verb and modals don’t change. (Modal verbs: can, must, may, should) The meaning of »must« and »have to« is almost the same. We often use »must« for more personal opinions about what it is necessary to do, and »have to« for what somebody in authority has said it is necessary to do.
- I must remember to get a present for Lucy.(my opinion)
- Do you have to wear a tie in your job?(asking about company rules)
»Have to« is more frequent in conversation; »must« is used more in formal writing, for example in written notices.
- Passengers must fasten their seat-belts.
There’s something very important about »must« and »have to«. The positive forms are very similar in meaning, but the negative forms are completely different.
- You mustn’t forget ...
- Du darfst nicht vergessen ...
- If you don't like him, you don’t have to see him again.
- Wenn du ihn nicht magst, musst du ihn nicht wiedersehen.
- In a non-smoking area you mustn’t smoke (you’re not allowed to smoke) but in a smoking area you don’t have to smoke but you can if you want to.
We use »should« for advice or making suggestions.
- You should charge the battery when it’s running low (solltest).
- You shouldn’t drink alcohol when you want to drive home afterwards.