When I was at school I was told I couldn't study Technology A Level (which at the time was the only way to learn more about computers) because my maths wasn't good enough - thanks for that Mr Cox!
I got a Sinclair Spectrum as a joint Christmas present with my brother and after spending hours watching those annoying flickering screens and then 'not' having the 'not very good' games load, I started programming ...
Does anybody else remember BASIC? ... I once got into trouble suggesting pascal was very similar to BASIC (but it is).
I bought myself a book about the Z80 processor (I've still got this somewhere) and set about writing increasingly complex (and rubbish) text based adventure games.
I knew Machine Code was the way to go, so after a few months of buying magazines on the subject (yes, real paper things that you had to manually turn pages and everything) I worked out how to create and manipulate Sprites ... long story, but these are nice graphics, not the clunky things we old guys were used to - I remember that I had a line of Triffids that swayed as they moved down the screen a la 'Space Invaders' style ...
Unfortunately, about this time, I also found some information which it transpired was probably for people who were a little more skilled than I was! I found a way to get my Spectrum to speak!
Well, I'll never know if it worked, because my poor Sinclair with its 'dead flesh' keys went 'pfffst' :( ... this is a good warning about connecting things to your computer when you don't really know what you are doing!
The plan was to play sound into the computer and then to have it's substandard sound chip recreate the information it had been listening for ... my computer made a sort of a wet fizzing noise and never worked again!
Then there was a gap of say a decade before I seriously looked at computers again ... partly a financial thing, partly an access thing ...
... anyway, I'm now fairly proficient at most things computer related ...
I can build you a computer ... though I'd rather not.
it's one of those skills that you regret people finding out about, no matter how many times you tell somebody that upgrading RAM is easy, they will insist that you do it!
No matter how simply you put the explanation of how to add a new DVD writer, people seem set on it being a life or death problem that only a hour round trip and numerous other 'Oh, while you're here, somebody said I need some virus stuff ... and my printer seems to be playing up'
... btw ...
I don't do Laptops!
I suppose I should point out that I'm pretty good with all the Microsoft products - I'm a bit behind the times, I prefer my tried and tested XP Professional (I have Vista, just never installed it, and can't afford Windows 7 at the moment).
Like most of us mortals (not being an IT professional) I was pretty much of the opinion that Microsoft was the only option (I was vaguely aware that there was this thing called Linux and that lots of people I knew worked on databases that weren't Microsoft, but I didn't need to know about these things)...
... needless to say, when I had an interview for a company that used a lot of Open Source, it was a bit of an eye opener for me ... I got offered the job, but didn't take it ... but I did get heavily into the Open Source thing!
I did have an old Dell Optiplex GX260 running Ubuntu (not a good enough graphics card for the cool effects I'm afraid, but it's unfortunately been called into service to replace another Windows machine for the time being :(
I'm by far not an expert on Linux, but I'm learning all the time, and its great to have an Apache Server that works for testing stuff without an internet connection :)
Seriously, if you have a spare (it doesn't have to be a fast machine) hanging around, install Ubuntu and have a tinker - you will learn a lot!
I should point out that you can run Apache on your windows machine (I do) you need to download WampServer which allows you to run Apache, PHP and MySql (Used to be known as Wamp).
It's a breeze to install, and means you can test away on your home machine without messing up remote server settings.
I'm not too bad at setting up networks ... provided they don't need to be too complex ... but I do know which lead plugs in where (unless it's wireless) ...