Final Blog Entry

The first thing I have to say is that this class was not at all what I had expected.  Most of the time when people think about taking an “intro to computers” class, they think typing, learning to open/close web pages, and how to use the internet.  I’m very thankful that wasn’t what this class was.  Most of the time, I need a class to grab  my attention in order to help me focus on what I’m doing.  Even though I still had issues focusing on some things, I still had fun in this class. To me, playing with the robots was probably the most interesting thing we did.  I don’t have much of a creative mind, so creating scratch programs, designing HTML pages, and then finally creating a virtual landscape were pretty difficult tasks for me to accomplish.  The robot, however, was pretty straightforward.

At the beginning of the semester, I honestly wasn’t certain what to expect from this class.  Instead of a textbook, we got the comic book, which I must say was an incredible resource.  Everything was well-laid out and a lot easier for me to locate the information I needed.  Dealing with textbooks gets old, so I was grateful for the change of pace with the comic book.  After we completed all of the “beginning semester” stuff, and got to dive into the projects, I knew I’d be able to see different aspects of computing.  Using HTML was interesting to me, because I had originally thought it would be difficult to design a web page, when in reality the actual use of HTML was easy.  It took me awhile to come up with a design for the page, sure, but putting it down into a file was the easiest part.  The funny part was, I got stuck for days trying to figure out why I had text sticking to a picture, when that’s not at all what I wanted.  Come to find out, I had 2 letters switched around in one of the words of a line.  After that I slowed down, took my time re-reading the rest of it, and fixing the remaining issues I had.

Going into this semester I had made up my mind that I wanted to study networking.  As much as I love gaming, and graphics, I knew I didn’t have the creative mind to design these things.  I think it might be fun somewhere down the line to learn how to write a game, or even better design the landscape for one, but for now I think I have proven to myself that the technical side of computers is where my biggest strength lies.  I’m glad this class gave me the opportunity to see several different sides of the computing world, and basic knowledge of what else you can do with a computer.  I would definitely recommend this class to anyone considering a career in computers, but just aren’t sure what field to go into.

Virtual Reality

I was first introduced to video games when I was a kid.  My neighborhood friend next door got a regular Nintendo for Christmas one year, and we wore that thing out.  Day in, day out, we could be found at his house playing Mario bros, and eventually a wider selection of 8-bit games.  Around our neighborhood he was the one that always ended up getting the new systems, so of course a lot of us would always be over at his house.  We played through Nintendo, super Nintendo, Sega, Sega genesis, and then the nintendo 64.  The system that first peeked my interest, though, was the first system my friend had….the original atari.  Most people think of the original atari as being completely old school.  Honestly, it’s about as old school as it gets, but it was still a lot of fun.  Though I don’t remember all of the games he had for it, I do remember playing a lot of pong.  As I got older, I kept playing console games through high school.  I played a few computer games growing up, but mostly I was only allowed to keep the games to the console.  I had a PlayStation, Xbox, then the PlayStation 2.  After high school, I eventually got more into computer games, which to me was the better way to go, since I was far more interested in how a game looked, rather than just how it played.  PC games seemed to give me more control over what was going on in the game, since I had far more options for key bindings, and other shortcuts.  The graphics on the PC far surpassed any console I could find as well.  After playing around with action/adventure, FPS, RPG, strategy, and sports/racing games, I discovered MMORPG’s.  I originally started playing “City of Heroes”, which later added the counterpart “City of Villains”.  This was fun for about 2 years, but then I moved on to other games such as “World of Warcraft”, “Aion”, “Rift”, and now my latest interest “Tera”. I still play a lot of non-mmo games, such as the assassin’s creed franchise, and mass effect series, which is where I’ve found the best graphics options.  MMO’s seem to be too large in themselves to be able to provide an exceptionally beautiful environment, but games not requiring millions of people to run around on the same server all at once can afford to put in the extra effort.  Most graphics these days have hit, what we see, as an all time high, but anyone who has paid attention to the evolution of game graphics and the use of special effects in video games knows that this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Game developers won’t stop improving on graphic performance until they’ve reached the level of true 3D, which I hope to see someday.

 

Artificial Intelligence

Ever since mankind has started producing machines to perform tasks too strenuous for us to perform, there has been someone out there considering what life would be like if machines could think and act on their own.  I, too, have considered this to be an intriguing idea.  As we know it, computers are composed of hardware components, and software needed to tell the parts of the computer how to function and interact with each other, in order to produce desirable data.  To most people it is inconceivable to have a computer that is not confined by the software it uses.  It would be an interesting notion to have a computer that is fully capable of writing its own programs in order to perform individual tasks, without the assistance of a person.  At the same time, however, there would be nothing limiting what that computer could and should do.  The sole reason people can be governed is because of our ability to consider right from wrong, and judge a best course of action based on how decisions might impact other people.  A computer would not consider these things when making decisions.  Programs are the product of math, statistical math to be more precise.  Which is the simplest solution? What would produce the highest output for the lowest cost?  Many people might believe that humans are weak because we are bound by our humanity, but that is what makes a person more valuable than a machine.  Machines might be more valuable in the sight of a company looking to make large profits for the least amount of cost, but the people behind the company are the ones who make the ultimate decisions.  I don’t see any problem leaving machines that are bound by the software the use in order to assist people with their everyday lives, but I really have a hard time finding a need for a self-aware, and self-teaching computer that could potentially produce more harm than good.

All about robots

Learning about some of the things science has been able to do with robots right now, has really given me some perspective.  We’ve been using machines for many years in order to help us perform everyday tasks, but after seeing the video of a robot doing tai chi, it really makes me wonder just how life-like are we going to make robots?  It’s the same as self-driving cars.  They say anything that uses software can potentially be hacked.  Self-driving cars would be a very bad idea to popularize in my mind, for this very reason.  In order for these cars to operate on their own, they would need particular software in order to perform each task, and to tell the CPU when to perform certain tasks.  If people were able to hack into these machines, and change the software even a little bit, the results could be disastrous.  Personally, I feel that if a human being is perfectly capable of doing something on their own, then that’s how it should be.  We don’t need machines to do everything for us.

First try with Scratch

So my first thought when I opened the Scratch program was, “ok how is this supposed to work, exactly?”.  I started playing around with it, but it hit me later on that even though there are an endless number of things you can create using scratch, you have to have a creative mind in order to come up with something even halfway decent.  Creativity has never really been my strong-suit, but nonetheless I can still give it my best shot.  I went through each tab, looking at all the options for each category, then tried to formulate a list of possibilities.  I tried to think of something that would be entertaining, or at the very least somewhat humorous.  So I went to work, playing around with the different sprites, seeing what the individual pictures would look like if I put them into action.  I knew in the beginning that this would take me at least a few days to think of a decent starting point, but in the end I found something that I think I can work with, but we’ll see how it turns out.

 

Hacking, viruses and other net security issues

My thoughts on hacking are somewhat split.  I can see how this type of knowledge could be potentially useful, given the right circumstances, and assuming that no one would get physically hurt as a direct result of this action.  Most of the time, however, hacking can have detrimental results.  Afterall, you are forcing your way into someone else’s computer/server/private network, and doing what you want with it.  Governments and militaries are about the only ones who could use these skills for important reasons.  Hacking your way into someone else’s network can be a great way for any government to learn another country’s secrets.  Most of the time when a civilian gets hacked, it’s usually because some criminal wants to steal their financial information, passwords, and anything else they might see as valuable.  These types of hackers just need to be thrown in jail for being a waste of space.  If you have the skill to hack someone else’s network or computer, then you should find a way to use those skills in a good way.  Not just for ruining someone’s life. 

Viruses, in my opinion, are created by anti-virus companies, so they have a market to dominate.  I’m sure some of the viruses floating around out there are legit, but I think they originated from the people who now run the major anti-virus software companies.Your average anti-virus subscription costs around $70 for a year.  The software itself, is usually $50-$100.  These guys definitely aren’t hurting for cash.

 

HTML 2

Although the project ended up being turned in late, I still managed to get it to display properly.  It ended up being an issue with the source coding in one of the images I was trying to display.  This project has altered my perspective about web page development and design.  If it was this difficult for me to create just a simple web page, I can’t image the issues that professionals can run into on a day to day basis.  Everything has to be placed exactly right for the computer to read the information correctly, and then display it in the way it was intended to be seen.  I have a new respect for people to develop web pages now, but I know it’s not something for me.  Something tells me you have to have something of a creative mind to be able to succeed at this career.

HTML 1

So we’re trying to create our own web page via .html, and I’ve run into several problems.  Using the examples we were shown in class, I began piecing together my webpage, only to later find text sticking together, as well as paragraphs linking themselves to the pictures I posted.  So I go back to the code.  I re-read what I’ve typed and can’t find the problem.  I’ve deleted the areas where the problems occurred, and retyped them, once again using the examples we were given in class so I can make sure I’m not inventing my own way of doing it.  I get the same result.  I’ve tried this project in both paragraph and table format, but can get neither to work.  I know I’m doing something wrong, but haven’t been able to pinpoint it just yet.  I may just start from scratch, and use links and pictures I know will work properly.

CSIT1110

So binary numbers…..not as bad as I thought they were going to be.  I had some issues early on with base 16, mostly adding the numbers, but the binary parts of it weren’t all that difficult in the end.  I found it’s mostly just a matter of paying attention to how many digit places you’re dealing with and remembering how to deal with each problem individually.  It’s interesting to see how a computer actually reads that data, by learning how binary numbers work; even though the computer doesn’t even see it as a 1 or 0, as much as it does a magnetic spot with electric current or not.  It’s still essentially the same thing.  Since all 3 of my current classes are dealing with these number systems, I’ll just need to focus on it more to make sure I’ve got the information down, and hopefully get good at dealing with it.

New semester

When I registered for this class, I thought it was just going to be another lecture class filled with visual aids and memorization materials.  I’m pleased to see that it’s got a lot of hands-on work to do as well.  It seems like this class is going to cover a lot of different areas of technology, which would be helpful in case I decide to change my major.