Looking back at the semester, if anything else sticks with me it’s a better perspective of where I prefer to be in terms of technology. I very much prefer to be somewhere on the end of producing end results. Using a program like Alice or Scratch to produce an interactive environment, referencing rather than memorizing code to create a web page, studying how modern technological mythos affects how society looks at technology as a whole.
And yet, it’s also hammered home the importance of knowing how the technology works in order to appreciate and better work with it. The evolution of processor chips, how registers work, and how to read binary may not be my absolute favorite subjects to learn. But they’re all smaller pieces of a very complex whole that is computers, sitting behind a user friendly veneer. Without knowing how the chips evolved and continue to do so, imagining where they may go seems foreign. Without understanding registers or code, pinpointing where the problem in the hardware or software may not specify the root cause.
Overall the most appreciation I’ve probably gained for something in this course is the importance and specific nature of algorithms in computer technology. Without them, computers would probably be nothing more than expensive numerical calculators (although in a way, with binary, they are anyway). They certainly help to break down and better understand the different functionalities involved with computers and related systems.
As part of the online class, I do wish I had the time to come into class for the robot section of the course. Robotics is something I have rarely had the opportunity to get my hands on in depth, and I would absolutely love to see the algorithms and mechanics come together first hand. I’m definitely going to continue playing with the Alice program, though. If anything else just to get more experience working with virtual environments.
Moving forward I’ll definitely be focusing on the networking, web interface, and security end of things if I can help it. Most of the general overview subjects I already knew going into the class, although clarification on the general architecture of the net helped me. I do wish we could have gone more into detail on the security section. Not only on the history, which I had only an incling of from a recent segment on the Colbert Report (http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/395003/august-18-2011/kevin-mitnick) but also the details on how each threat can affect a system and how to best counter them. Actually I’d really like at least a class on the subject of security, to get a better idea if that would be worth pursuing as a career in it’s own right.