ICT Applications - Part 1
This being a very big topic we have divided this into five parts. In this part we will cover communication, data handling and measurement applications.
How are flyers, posters, brochures and newsletters prepared?
Flyers and posters can be produced very easily using one of the many software packages available. The most common ones being word processing and desktop publishing softwares.
Flyers or poster generally have photos which have been taken specially or downloaded from the internet.
The following are the steps used to make such a document using a computer system:
- Open a word processor, DTP or presentation application.
- Create frames, boxes and/or text boxes.
- Take photos, if necessary using a camera.
- Upload the images from the camera or from a CD/ DVD, scan photos, or download photos from the internet.
- Save the photos to a file.
- Import or copy and paste the photos into the document.
- Edit the photos and import from a file or type any text required.
However, if you want professional quality flyers, posters, etc., which are printed on glossy paper it is better to get this done from companies who specialise in this kind of work, using specialist software than doing this and printing it on a laser or inkjet printer at home or your office.
What is the use of Brochures and flyers?
Brochures can also be used to advertise a company. If you want to target your product to a specific group, then these brochures and flyers can be sent out to every household in a given area. A more common hit and miss method is to put the documents inside magazines and newspapers.
The big disadvantage of both these methods is people tend to throw these documents away, especially those found in magazines and newspapers, unless they are eye catching and offer something interesting or useful.
What is the exact definition of a brochure?
Brochure includes a flyer, a pamphlet or a leaflet. Brochures could therefore be a single sheet of paper which may be folded into two or more equal parts or even made of multiple sheets again which could be either stapled or bound in some other way. However, as a practice, single sheet documents are called as flyers or leaflets and booklets are referred to as brochures.
What is the use of Posters?
Posters are generally made of large sheets of paper which are displayed on buildings, noticeboards or advertising hoardings.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of Posters?
Posters have their own advantages and disadvantages.
A big advantage of posters are, they are eye-catching and usually very hard to miss. They are used in many countries on the sides of roads so motorists see them on their way to work. By placing the posters in strategic positions, it is possible to target certain segment of people. E.g. advertising expensive villas and flats by placing the posters on buildings or advertising hoardings in financial districts of big cities.
The biggest disadvantage is the cost of display as the advertising areas can only be rented. Add to that, the posters are subject to weather conditions leading to a limited life.
What is a newsletter?
Newsletters are produced by companies or clubs using the same methods as used for making brochures. They contain local information generally related with the company employees or club members and is for their use only.
The content may include:
- Marriages, deaths and births of employees, club members or their families.
- Fundraising successes by employees or club members.
- Advertising by outside companies.
- News events, such as fundraising, etc.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of websites over flyers or leaflets for advertising?
Websites give worldwide coverage compared to brochures and flyers and the need to buy paper and other consumables is done away with. However, the cost of developing or getting it developed through other companies and maintaining it is huge compared to brochures, etc.
- Sound/video/animation can be added.
- Links to other websites/hyperlinks can be used.
- Use of hotspots.
- Buttons to navigate/move around the website leading to more information.
- Hit counters to see how many people have visited the website.
- Can be seen by a global audience.
- Can't be defaced or thrown away.
- It is much easier to update a website and there is no need to do a reprint and then distribute the new version.
- Websites can be hacked into and modified or viruses introduced.
- Risk of potential pharming.
- It is necessary for the potential customers to have a computer and internet connection and also be computer literate.
- It is not as portable as a paper-based system although with modern smartphones and phablets this is fast becoming untrue.
- Possible for customers to go to undesirable websites either by accident or as a result of the pharming attack, which can lead to distrust from customers.
- There is a need for the company to maintain the website once it is set up which can be expensive.
- Because it is a global system, it is more difficult to target the correct audience using website advertising.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of multimedia presentations?
Presentations that use animation, video and sound or music are generally much more interesting than a standard presentation done on slides or paper.
Many commercial softwares are available which can be used to produce these presentations and then used with a multimedia projector for the whole audience to see the presentation.
- By making use of sound and animation/video effects, the probability of grabbing 'eyeballs' is much higher and also makes the presentation easier to understand.
- By including transition effects in the presentation, facts can be displayed in a key or chronological order.
- Interactive/hyperlinks can be built into the presentation thereby making it possible to access a company's website or even key files stored on the cloud such as video footage, images, spreadsheets, etc.
- Because of the links to websites and other external systems, e.g., the cloud, etc., the presentations can be made very flexible and tailored to suit a particular audience.
- In case of any equipment failure, the multimedia presentation could be a disaster.
- Special equipment needs to be purchased which can be expensive.
- Often the focus gets shifted to multimedia presentation or medium rather than the message.
- Too many animation effects or too much of text or images could result in not passing the intended message to the audience.
- Internet access may be needed wherever the presentation has any external links in it.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of paper-based presentations?
Presentations can also be done using paper print outs rather than using computers and multimedia equipments.
- The recipient has the hardcopy of the presentation and can read it at any time he/she wants.
- The recipients can refer the hardcopy for later use as they have a permanent copy with them.
- It is a big advantage for disabled people as they don't have to go to the venue to see the presentation.
- Blind people can be provided with a printout of it in Braille for their reference.
- There are printing costs of paper, ink and other consumables.
- Somebody has to physically distribute the hardcopies of the presentation to the audience and it could be really time consuming and troublesome if it is a huge crowd.
- It is very bland with no special effects like sound, video or animation.
What features are available in music scores or music softwares?
Some of the features available in music scores softwares are:
- Complex music can be synthesised by combining simple wave forms.
- Original music tracks that were recorded in the studio can be modified to the Producer's requirement using music samplers and mixers.
- Using software the music score can be generated from the music itself.
- Electronic instruments (like guitars and organs) can play back through electronic effects machines.
- Software can automatically correct music notes in a score.
- Electronic organs can mimic any other instrument.
- The need to understand music notation is no longer required.
- Music notes are automatically printed out in the correct format.
How are cartoons made and what is their use?
By using computer hardware and software, a cartoon with motion or animation can be created. Objects are designed on a computer and a 3-D skeleton of framework or basic structure is produced using 3-D animation. The animation software can move parts of the skeleton using key frames. These frames define the start point and end point to give a smooth animation effect. The software automatically calculates the difference in the appearance of the skeleton in these key frames. This is known as tweening or morphing. The final stage is to make a realistic image by a technique known as rendering.
Cartoons can also be freehand drawings and then scanned in or can be computer-generated with the help of a graphics pad. The purpose of cartoons is to add humour to communication and to efficiently and effectively get across a message.
However, it is important to make sure that nobody is offended while making cartoons and also that the cartoon doesn't become the 'main feature' and the message becomes lost somewhere within the humour.
How do mobile phones communicate?
The transmission of data throughout the mobile phone network happens by making use of towers inside many cells which are networked together to cover large areas.
Each tower transmits within its own cell. If you are moving around and reach the edge of the cell, the mobile phone signal starts to weaken. This is recognised by the network and the mobile phone then picks up the signal in one of the adjacent cells. Whenever a person makes a call or sends a text message to somebody in a different country then satellite technology is used to enable the communication to take place.
Computers and tablets can now use mobile phone technology simply by plugging in a device using one of the available USB ports or by inserting a SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card in the slot provided in the tablets to connect to the mobile phone network. This then allows access to the internet.
What are the advantages of a mobile phone over a landline phone system?
Mobile phones as a communication device can be used to make phone calls from any location within the cellular network. This has many advantages over the more conventional landline system:
- Personal calls or business can be conducted while a person is on the move.
- Always possible to keep in touch with co-workers at the office or friends and family no matter where you are.
- In case of any emergency there is no need to have an operational public telephone nearby.
They also allow text messaging:
- Even if the recipient's phone is switched off, text messages can be sent to them at any time.
- Text messages are not only less expensive but also quicker than making phone calls.
- They employ predictive texting meaning, the system completes a word from the first few letters keyed in. E.g. key in 'compu' and the phone completes the word as 'computer. Predictive texting also allows the system to remember frequently used words, together they increase typing speed.
Internet can always be accessed on the move in mobile phones using either the cellular network or a Wi-Fi 'hot spot'.
What is internet telephony/Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)?
Voice over internet Protocol (VolP) is one of the most common forms of internet telephony or having a telephone conversation via the internet.
Sound picked up by the computer microphone or special VolP telephone plugged into the USB port of the computer is converted into discrete digital packets which can be sent to their destination via the internet by VolP. If talking is done from computer to computer with both computers having VoIP telephones or using their built in or plugged in microphones and speakers then, it is totally free or would be charged at local rate to anywhere in the world, when VolP is used to communicate with a mobile or land line telephone rather than another computer. Of course a broadband ISP would be required for this to work in real time. One major concern is echo and 'weird sounds' which in turn affect sound quality. Another major concern with VolP is security, like other internet technologies.
One of the main advantage of using VolP is that a webcam can also be connected so that it becomes a type of video chat. Though it lacks the sophistication of a video conference, it is much cheaper as there is no need of any special software or additional hardware items as VolP uses built-in microphones, speakers and webcams. Generally the video quality is not very good, but can be improved by using a more expensive webcam connected to one of the computer's USB ports.
Write a note on Business cards and letterheads.
Many IT companies offer to produce business cards and letterheads of any design.
The final version of the business card is then shown. The customer places their order and the business cards are printed and delivered.
Business cards can then be handed out to people as a form of personal advertisement. The use of IT (in this case, a website) has made this a much easier task. Business cards are less likely to be thrown away since they are seen as personal contact. It is also possible to include additional information on the reverse of the card - this could be further advertising of the company's products or it could be advertising another company.
Many of the advantages of having business cards are similar to the advantages of using headed stationery.
The same format used on the business cards can be adopted on a company letterhead. This helps to project a corporate image. As with the business cards, these pages can be printed on high-quality paper using a laser printer.
Flyers and brochures can be produced using the same design/logo so it becomes very clear to the customer that all the communication comes from one company.
What are the advantages of getting corporate letterheads produced by a printing website?
The gains out weigh the initial costs for a company by using corporate letterheads produced by a printing website:
- Advertising, as the letterhead can be used to put useful pieces of information for promoting itself.
- Instead of having a typed company heading on a white sheet of paper, letterheads helps to make the company stand out and thereby have more impact on customers.
- Makes the company appear larger than it actually is, thereby giving a degree of confidence to potential customers.
- Professionalism thereby giving a degree of credibility to the company.
- Company brand image or company awareness is created, as it advertises the company by using the same designs on all products.
- If there are any legal actions taken, legitimate documents using the company letterhead is regarded as proof of actual communication.
How can computers be used in surveys?
If a business wants to know the buying habits of a number of customers then it can either hand out questionnaires/surveys to people or post an questionnaire on a website for people to fill online. In case of paper questionnaires, correct responses can be selected by either ticking/shading in boxes, by connecting two points or by filling in ellipses/circles.
In online questionnaires radio buttons are provided, since this is a quick and easy method for gathering data.
If paper surveys are used then they have to be scanned in using OMR or OCR methods and the information is then transferred to a database. The advantages of doing this rather than checking each one by hand are:
- Faster to get results
- Fewer errors and
- Easier to do a statistical analysis and less expensive as fewer people would be required.
In online questionnaires, the results would be sent directly to a database for analysis as the data is captured/saved when the user presses the send/save button.
How can address lists be prepared and maintained using computers?
To store people's personal information like name, home address, phone numbers, email address and other personal data like date of birth and gender, address books applications are used which are stored in computers, tablets and even mobile phones.
The data can be organised into groups in most address book applications to help the user organise their records into:
- work colleagues
This helps the user to search by name, grouping, address and so on. Newer address book applications also allow synchronisation of data with tablets and mobile phones. So the data changed in one device gets synced automatically in rest of the devices and kept up to date. As soon as the computer is linked to a tablet or mobile phone then both linked devices will be updated with the latest information.
How computers can be used to maintain clubs and society records?
Clubs and societies have to keep records of their members like membership number, name, payment details, personal details (phone number, address), their interests etc. A simple database stores all this information making it unnecessary to keep paper records. In future, if they want to plan an activity, say cricket and want to find out who would be interested then the computer system can quickly scan all the records on file. They can then automatically contact the member(s) by email or using mail merge, send out a letter and flyer.
Further, it also becomes easy to check on membership subscriptions and send out reminders. This all results in savings on paper records which are time-consuming to search, are prone to be lost or misplaced and are more expensive as along with cost of paper, there are filing and cabinet costs and it also saves on space in the office area.
Mail merge is used to find the names and addresses of club members so that reminders can be sent out automatically. The data is picked up from the stored database.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of computers for record keeping?
Consider a small bookshop which keeps records of all the books in stock and their customer base in electronic form in a database. If they wish to contact the customer if a particular book has just been published or want to find their buying habits, this becomes very easy now. This would also make it easier to search for a particular book - based on title, author or ISBN, if a customer walks and inquires about it. All this is leading to several advantages to the shop.
- Since there are no paper records less office space would be required in the shop.
- To get details of a particular book or its availability, it is quicker and easier.
- The system would be less expensive as an extra person need not be hired to do the filing and searching.
- Fewer errors as manual checking of paper files is done away with.
- The setup cost is high as one would need to buy a computer and software to run the system and also learn how to use it if one is not computer literate.
- To transfer all the existing paper files to the database, time and effort is required initially.
Explain how computers can be used for generating school reports?
Computers can be used to keep data on the academic performance of all the students in a school. A database is generally used to store this. The school could then easily track how well the students were performing over the academic year. A printed copy of the student's progress in the form of a report can then be generated using the database.
Generating a report from the database of each student at the end of the term or year would be very easy and fast than writing out a report.
A typical database for this application generally contains the following fields:
- Student Id
- Student Name
- Tutor Group
- Term 1 grades
- Term 1 attendance
- Term 1 comments
There may be separate tables for each term so that the database contains all the data of the students over the full academic year.
Majority of the databases allow the teachers to produce professional-looking reports by carrying out a series of queries. If this is printed on an headed notepaper with the school's name and logo, will enhance the appearance of the report.
Mail merge is used to find the names and addresses of parents so that reports can be sent out automatically.
Explain the use of computers in weather stations.
Computers are used in weather stations to automatically gather data from the environment. A variety of sensors are used to measure:
- wind speed
- wind direction
- humidity and
- barometric or air pressure
This data is gathered 24/7 i.e., 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This data helps the weather forecasters to predict the weather for the next few days or take a more long-term view by looking at weather patterns.
Explain how a computer can be used to measure a patient's vital signs in a hospital?
Given below are the steps that need to be taken for using a computer to measure the key vital signs of a patient in a hospital:
- Sensors read key vital signs like pulse rate, heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, respiration and so on.
- As the data from the sensors is in analogue form, it is converted into digital form using an ADC and then sent to a computer.
- This data is then stored in database files in the computer's hard disks.
- The computer compares the data from the sensors with the preset values, which were entered earlier by a nurse or doctor for a particular patient, stored in database files.
- The results are displayed on a screen in the form of graphs and/or numerical readouts.
- An alarm gets activated if any of the data is outside acceptable input values.
- The system will continue to measure the patient's vital signs till the time the computer is not turned off.
Enumerate the steps that need to be taken for measuring pollution of a river using a computer.
Given below are the steps that need to be taken for using a computer to measure pollution in a river:
- The sensors need to be placed in at least two different positions to make a reasonable comparison of pollution.
- As the data from the sensors is in analogue form, it is converted into digital form using an ADC and then sent to a computer.
- The computer stores the received data.
- The oxygen levels and acidity levels are compared with the historical data stored in database files and they are also compared with the preset levels stored in database files.
- The oxygen and acidity levels from the different positions in the river are also compared to see if they are similar. This is used to try to locate the source of the pollution.
After this one of two things are done. Either the data is transferred to a CD/ DVD or memory stick and taken away for further analysis or the computer is connected to a mobile phone network which transmits the data back automatically to the monitoring station.
Other types of sensors, like light sensors can be used to see if there are solids or chemicals in the water blocking out light.
What are the advantages of using ICT or computers in measurement applications?
The following are the advantages and disadvantages of using ICT or computers in measurement applications:
- Response time of computers is very fast. This would especially be useful in hospital monitoring applications.
- Measurements would be automatically taken while doctors, nurses, scientists can carry out other tasks.
- Computer don't forget to take readings.
- Computers can give 24 hours cover every day.
- The readings would be more accurate.
- Readings can be taken more frequently if done by a computer and sensors.
- It is also safer since whatever is being measured may have potential hazards. E.g. children falling into the river whilst attempting to take readings, the pollution in the water is too high for humans to go near or enter the water or a nurse looking after a patient who has a contagious disease.
- Graphs can automatically be generated by computers for analysis of results.
- As fewer staff would be needed to take measurements, there would be reduced wage bill resulting in big cost savings.
- Initial acquisition and setup cost would be high as computer equipment and measuring software can be expensive to purchase and set up.
- The computer cannot respond to unusual circumstances on its own.
- Good backup procedures need to be put in place to take care of the eventuality of the computer malfunctioning or power cuts as the computer cannot be used, if this happens.
- The skill of taking readings manually will be lost in future generations, if students rely on the computer for taking measurements and doing analysis while conducting experiments.
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