Data Centers

Members demonstrate ample knowledge of basic computer information

Our first multiple-choice pop quiz was a big hit with members. Find out how you rank against the 10,000 TechRepublic members who took our basic computer skills quiz.

After a brief hiatus, the Pop Quiz returned to Support Republic on March 1, 2002, with a brand-new look and feel. The new multiple-choice format was immediately popular with TechRepublic members: More than 10,000 of you took the time to complete the five-question quiz. So how did you do? Let's find out.

The correct answer is: Complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS). As you can see in Figure A, 63 percent of those who took the quiz chose the right answer. A CMOS chip is a semiconductor that uses both P-type (positive polarity) and N-type (negative polarity) transistors. It requires very little power when not in use. PCs use battery-powered CMOS memory to store system information such as date, time, and system configuration parameters. I just made the other answers up.

Figure A

Parity vs. nonparity RAM

Figure B

The correct answer is: Parity RAM modules have an extra error checking chip, while nonparity modules do not. Figure B shows that 81 percent of those who took the quiz got this one correct. Parity modules have an extra chip that detects whether data was correctly read or written by the memory module. This extra chip will not, however, correct the error. For information on RAM chips, check out this article by Kyu Rhee.

Expansion slot coloring

Figure C

The correct answer is: Black. However, this time, only 55 percent of our quiz-takers knew the answer, as shown in Figure C. Industry Standard Architecture/Extended Industry Standard Architecture (ISA/EISA) slots are usually black. Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) slots are usually white. Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) slots are usually brown. For more information on motherboards, check out this article by Van Glick.

RAID: Disk mirroring

Figure D

The correct answer is: RAID 1. This was another tough one, with only 53 percent of respondents choosing the correct answer, as shown in Figure D. RAID 1 duplicates but doesn't stripe data and is also known as disk mirroring. This RAID level offers faster read performance, since both disks can be read at the same time. It also provides the best fault tolerance, because data is 100 percent redundant. However, RAID 1 requires high disk overhead and is thus less efficient than many other RAID levels. To learn more about the different RAID levels, check out this article by Gregory Harris.

ESD conductivity

Figure E

The correct answer is: Surge protector. As shown in Figure E, 87 percent of our respondents got this one right. Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is the transfer of an electrostatic change between two objects. Although ESD can be a real hoot when the other object is an unsuspecting friend, electronic components aren't so tolerant. ESDs produce a significant amount of heat, and although we don't feel this heat when shocked, it can damage the tiny parts within electronic components. Sometimes a piece of equipment that has been damaged by ESD will continue to function. However, the latent defect is extremely hard to detect and can significantly reduce the device's life span. To prevent ESD damage during shipping, many electronic devices, including computer components, are shipped in antistatic bags. Likewise, PC repair technicians should wear either a grounding wrist strap or use a grounding mat when working on a computer. For more information about best practices for opening a computer, check out this article by Mike Walton.

Definitely a passing grade
For the most part, I think the results of our first multiple-choice pop quiz were excellent. For those of you who chose all the correct answers, congratulations. For those who missed a few, read the provided articles to refresh your memory. One more note: I've received several e-mails from TechRepublic members who have either mistakenly entered the wrong answer or thought a question was confusing and therefore believe they should be awarded the 500 TechPoints. I'd like to let you in on a little secret: You get the TechPoints even if you select incorrect answers.

You be the teacher
We've run three different multiple-choice pop quizzes:
  1. Basic computer skills
  2. Windows 2000 Professional
  3. Basic networking
If you have a topic you'd like us to cover in an upcoming pop quiz, we want to hear about it. Post a comment to this article or drop us a line and share your suggestions for both quiz topics and questions.



Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

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