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Holiday Eggblog

Posted in CSIT 1110, Thoughts on December 13, 2009 by aggarrett

Time to wrap it up already?  My wife, Beth,  was in Wal-Mart the other day and, while in line, the lady in front of her was complaining that the doctor couldn’t tell her why she was having headaches or backaches or some other malady. I can’t quite recall because this is second hand info anyway and I was probably half involved with something else when Beth was relaying the story to me but anyway the lady was hurting.  Beth then explained as best she could, which is pretty good because she is educated having just received her Bachelors from UT this week, that her husband believes that in 20- 30 years there will be tiny robots living inside a person and that these robots will be able to relay important physical data to outside the body.  Bluetoothed, if you will, right into the doctor’s waiting laptop.  You would think that at least with this kind of raw technical data laid out on the table the woman would feel some sort of relief that if not now it will one day be better.  She didn’t.  Beth said the lady rolled her eyes.  Can you belieeeve that?  Rolled her eyes.  Well believe it lady.

This semester has been great and looking back over my classmates blog’s I can tell I am not the only one who believes so.  Everyone has come out of this class with useful knowledge and because most of us are planning careers in IT we should.

I bought Randy Pausch’s book The Last Lecture after watching the video a couple of times and after the two weeks we spent working on the Alice project which was ,in my opinion, the most enjoyable lab assignment of the semester.  As usual, there is a lot more to the book.  I would advise picking it up.  Give it as a gift and, even if you’ve never read it, the person you are giving it to, IF THEY READ IT, will think you put great thought into their gift…  I wrote this last sentence and almost erased it.  At first thought it was too dark considering the circumstances of the subject.  But after watching the lecture and reading the book I think that the statement is right and Mr. Pausch would not mind.

Pac Man

Posted in CSIT 1110, Thoughts on December 7, 2009 by aggarrett

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I paid $150 for my atari (used) 2600 at around the age of 6 with the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) coming soon after.  Don’t tell me what a man knows, tell me how many times he beat Super Mario Bros. consecutively.

Now the worlds  loom around you like cinematic cut scenes from a hollywood movie and the motion picture industry is taking a backseat to the  video world.  Heck, I don’t like half the endings that Iwatch in new movies nowadays, most are too predictable or just uninteresting.

Video games give people a chance to change this.  A good voice-over coupled with smooth animations, throw in Hollywood quality scripts and I’m usually   hooked.  Even though the A.I. is usually insanely predictable it is irrelevant because online multiplayer is where its at.  I’ve been into Xbox live Call Of Duty matches that had my heart pounding because of the great job the graphics do to put me there in the action.  I enjoy these first person shooters most of all because of the fast pace and high level of player control.

I don’t play the online games because they require more time than I have to put in and I usually find myself bored trying to develop my character.  My experience is limited in these types.

Artificial worlds will continue to develop and of course who knows…. maybe we’re in one now.

Artificial Intelligence

Posted in CSIT 1110 on November 23, 2009 by aggarrett

I’ve watched artificial intelligence develop for around 25 years.  My first exposure being mushrooms.  Not the edible sometimes hallucinogenic kind either.  (That was many years later) No I’m talking about the mushrooms with the deadly grin that I would spend many hours through childhood avoiding at all costs lest I find myself repeating the same nightmare of headaches from the constant brick breaking, maze wandering and castle storming that was…. Super Mario Bros.

Older now.  The mushrooms have become enemy soldiers but the headache remains.  Maybe its the exposure to the TV.

The A.I. is different now. It responds and changes to its environment more readily.  Moving to get in better positions to kill. Still not too smart. Movements and decisions become repetitive so that once you figure out the pattern you can influence what the NPCs on the screen are going to do.  Now games have difficulty levels but this is not better A.I. within the game just  less forgiveness for my run and gun playing style.

With every game , at least the good ones, the A.I. gets more and more advanced. Soon I will have to lock the d0ors of my house in FallOut3 for fear of the less trustworthy NPCs that may take advantage of my breaks away from their world.  Many more and much longer than they were when I was younger because of better responsibilities.  Soon however my son and I will both be in a fight to save the world against whatever faction or race is trying to take over the planet.  My son is 3 now and enjoys the Wii with his mother and I.  Co-Op wargames won’t be far and taking into account Moore’s Law I’m gonna need all the help I can get.

Robots In My Brain

Posted in CSIT 1110, Thoughts on November 14, 2009 by aggarrett

I just read an article on the BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7288426.stm) published 3/11/08 that describes a chemical brain that has been developed for use in nano-machines.  The brain itself is just two billionths of a meter across. WHAT.  How can you make something that small and control what it does?  With a very big, very expensive microscope that’s how. I’m having a hard time even wrapping my mind around this.  I get frustrated with tiny screws on the battery compartments of my sons toys and these guys create commandable chemical brains smaller than the dust I just cleared,with a blink,out of my eyes. The size of a red blood cell is 2500nm. This chemical brain is 2nm.

With this brain scientists believe that they will be able to control nano-machines that will eventually be able to perform medical operations inside the human body.  Very exciting stuff.  No more deaths because of inoperable tumors.  No more extensive hospital stays because of invasive and debillitating  operations.  Got a cancer?  Drink this and call me in the morning.  As someone who questions greatly what comes after death (nothing, is my current stance)  this is good news because I have a desire to live for a long time but I know my commitment to my health is not as proactive as it should be.  Playing a game of baseball with my son , his son, his son’s son, and his son’s son’s son inside virtual Yankees stadium? Sign me up.   Roboticize me.  Beam me up. Robots are awesome.

Computer Hacking

Posted in CSIT 1110 on October 31, 2009 by aggarrett

          Having the ability to hack a computer is like having the ability to kick someone’s butt.  You could do it but it will be frowned on unless it was self defense and if you don’t do it right you could come out of the action in much worse shape than when you started(see David Kernell).  I believe this is linked to the rise of the computationally inclined (nerd) and their way of getting back at the bullies that have plagued society since the beginning of time.  Hacking seems to have sprung up from a certain societal niche’s need to use the increased intellect bestowed upon them by genetics at birth, not just as a way to succeed, but as a representational egging of  Big Brother by way of hacking.  

          It comes down to the fact that you have always needed the ability to defend yourself and personally defending yourself in today’s world has taken on multiple meanings.  Not only must you watch out for yourself and your family physically but you had better have your ducks in a row when the identity thieves come knocking.

Mr. Pausch and Alice

Posted in CSIT 1110 on October 24, 2009 by aggarrett

      Wow. That’s all I could think after watching the YouTube video of Randy Pausch in class Thursday.  I tried to think of what it would be like to know I didn’t have long on this earth, or what kind of … I don’t know, legacy I guess, that I would leave behind.  I know that after watching Mr. Pausch’s last lecture that I am closer to having a better idea of what exactly it is I want to be better at. One thing is for sure, I wish I would have heard of Randy Pausch a long time ago.

      The Alice program has been a lot of fun working on for the last couple of days.  So much fun that I sat in front of my computer yesterday for a solid 8 hours working on my first world.  Every time I watch my scene play I see multiple things that need to be tweaked and I’m finding this as addictive as any video game I’ve ever spent waaaay too much time on.  As  a matter of fact I believe my better half got upset at me last night for spending so much time in front of the screen.  Could have been because I was blocking her “My Space” access.  Time for another computer.

     The pseudo computer assignment got me interested in programming and now Alice has just peaked more interest.  Further study is merited.  Just got to look out and be prepared for those brick walls.  Now it is time to get back to the  sound editing of my creation.  It may be another night in the doghouse for me.  Just kidding shes a good woman standing over my back as I typawene . Ow. as I type.

HTML’s Mysterious Cough

Posted in CSIT 1110 on October 14, 2009 by aggarrett

      Broke down on the edge of the desert HTML didn’t know what to do.  The sun was baking his skin through the thin flannel he had taken off of the last known survivor… well, except for him.  “Won’t be long now,” he thought.

      Understanding a little about HTML and how it is used has enabled me to look at a web site and have an idea of how they achieved their “look”. I now understand more about how the sites are created.  My only previous experience with HTML had  been watching someone else use it to build a website for a group project in my early years of College(ref. lost in a daze). Now with one week’s experience I believe I could do exactly what he did and save the $50 we each paid him.  Wasn’t cheating, we could pay to have the site done if we chose to. The group just had to gather the information.  Should have learned this ten years ago when I had the chance.  Better late than never I guess. Two birds on my bush is worth their weight in gold or something like that.

      Also accessed the school server from home and edited my website using the free FTP client download from http://filezilla-project.org/.  So I got that going for me.  But  I left my USB drive in the computer at school.  I knew that would eventually happen.

HTML and ME

Posted in CSIT 1110 on October 11, 2009 by aggarrett

      At first when Dr. Brown assigned this HTML writing project I thought, “S#&t, I had just started fully understanding the concepts of the simple assembly language program and now it looks like it’ll be more ‘staring at the computer until the solution comes to me’.”  ,but it turns out I was wrong.  HTML is much more fun to make a mistake on and by making these mistakes you end up learning new techniques. It turns out HTML is much more forgivable probably partly because HTML is not a programming language.    

      One example of this was when I was experimenting with how to put link on my website through  text and I kept on ending up with more words highlighted for the link than what I wanted.  This was caused by misplaced closing tabs and can be easily fixed, but this style would probably be useful for other applications(think children’s site where a toddler may not have the best control over his mouse).

      With the use of  simple cut and paste features working on a website is like working on a puzzle.  One in which if a puzzle piece goes into the wrong place you can end up with a wholly different looking puzzle, and when you spend some time pasting and typing into notepad all of your changes and then you update the site and instantly everything that you wanted to amend or add changes and it looks good … well that’s kind of satisfying.  Like working hard all day on the landscaping at your house and seeing your progress at the end of the day , but a hell of a lot quicker and a whole lot less sweat.

      This assignment has definately peaked my interest and I hope to be able to take some classes on website design in the future.

The Pseudo Computer

Posted in CSIT 1110 on September 28, 2009 by aggarrett

Where to start….

        Sitting in class listening to Dr. Brown explaining the pseudo computer I thought I had this stuff down.  Sitting in front of my computer at 3AM this morning I realized maybe I should have asked a couple of questions and from some of the discussion messages it doesn’t look like I’m the only one.

        I started the assignment last night at 7pm with the Colts/Cardinals game playing in the background and cruised right through the first six questions, but then  out of nowhere came a wall.  I was stuck and couldn’t move.  Everytime I would input some code something would go wrong.  I swear at one point my own computer was laughing at me (well… maybe that was the hard drive I heard). 

     Like I said I had started this assignment at 7PM with the belief that by 9 I would be kicked back watching Peyton make it look easy. Instead 7PM turned to 12AM and I was still stuck on #7, and #8.  I watched the tutorial which helped me with #7 but I was still stuck on 8.

     I had pretty much given up, I even turned in the assignment with what i had come up with and was upset that I could not figure it out. Then it came to me, I had not been thinking about using both registers, one to count up while the other was counting down getting ready to execute the stop after it had reached 0. 

     I had it!  I knew I did, but why wasn’t it working?  Probably because it was 3AM and my eyes were heavy and my sight grew dim. I had to stop for the night.

     Woke up this morning and within 30 minutes had answered # 8. Go figure.  Late or not I’m glad I didn’t give up, and as a side note it turns out I’m pretty good at writing a program that would double the number 1 until I cried. STOP.

Building a Computer

Posted in CSIT 1110 on September 21, 2009 by aggarrett

For my computer I will be using…

  • Cooler Master CM690 ATX Mid Tower Case – 89.99
  • Intel DP43TF motherboard which is in atx form factor – 89.99
  • Intel Core 2 Duo e7500 processor – 119.99
  • Kingston PC 6400 800MHz 4gb ddr2 RAM –  54.99
  • Western Digital WD5000AADS Caviar Green 500GB hard drive – 59.99
  • Visiontek Radeon HD 3850 video card – 184.96
  • LG Super Multi Blue Optical Drive CH08LS10 – 124.99 www.newegg.com
  • Ultra LS600 Lifetime Series 600w Power Supply – 54.98
  • Samsung P2370 23” 1080P Widescreen LCD Monitor – 269.99
  • Kodak ESP 7 All In One Inkjet Printer – 199.99

 

All products and prices were quoted from www.tigerdirect.com  unless otherwise noted. When I chose these parts I was trying to come up with an affordable gaming computer that would have room to expand. Starting with the case which had places for up to six 120mm fans and really cool lights(tiger direct  has a nice video on the nvidia version of the same case).The Cooler Master atx case also accomodates the largest of video cards (up to 12.5″). The Intel MB and CPU I chose because of my familiarity with the name and reputation. My choice for the optical drive is made because of its bluray capability and lightscribe technology.Kingston and Visiontek are also big names in computing.  I know that the 500GB hard drive will be more than adequate for my memory needs and is also environmentally friendly hence the word green in the title(the samsung monitor also has energy saving features.  The Ultra power supply has a lifetime warranty and surge protection built in. I chose the Samsung display and Kodak printer because of previous experience with these brands.  I love the picture on my current 22″ Samsung and Kodak has great customer support and quality products  with the cheapest printer ink around, I believe it is a no brainer. Everything I have listed is not the cutting edge because  I wanted it to be affordable but I have come up with an adequate piece of machinery that should allow me ” to kill them before they kill me” (not to worry , just my mantra in Call of Duty).

     Now to put it all together. 

  1. Install the CPU on the motherboard and install the included fan. Then plug in the powercord from the cooler to the motherboard.
  2. Install the RAM on the motherboard.
  3. Attach the ATX backplane connector onto my case.
  4. Install the hard drive and optical drive.
  5. Connect the front panel connectors being especially careful with the polarity of any lights.
  6. Plug in the USB, Firewire, and audio jacks being careful to not cross the firewire and usb plugs.
  7. Install power supply, plugging power supply cables into their components.
  8. Install video card into video slot and secure.
  9. Plug in power supply connectors to motherboard and video card. Also plugging in the main fan.
  10. Clean up wiring and  install windows.