Hello, kind reader, and thank you for reading this final entry into my Information Tech blog.
Well, this is it, the last post in this particular blog. This class has been an interesting and actually thought provoking class. It has actually changed much of what I had previously thought about most of the subjects we spoke on in this course. I will now recount this course to the best of my abilities and discuss what I thought about the subjects I studied in it.
I started the course with just basic computer skills, but that started to change after the first week. In that first section of the class, we spoke on the history of the computer, the hardware, the soft ware, and binary. I enjoyed learning about the different personalities involved with the history of the computers, and learning interesting facts about those people. The most memorable of those is how Charles Babbage died broke and tortured by organ grinders. I don’t know why, but the whole organ grinder thing just seemed rather strange to me.
The lesson on software was one of the bigger eye openers to me in that class. I didn’t know how much the O.S. actually does for the user. I will try to keep it in mind from now on when I get angry at Windows for messing with me.
I enjoyed building the fictitious computer and looking for the parts for it, even if I have no hope of ever affording that monster. It was interesting to see how all the parts would fit together and form a computer. And it was not nearly as complex as it looked. I hope that someday I will get to put my knowledge of building a computer to the test. It was also really cool to finally learn about binary. That one lesson demystified binary for me and it no longer seems like arbitrary rubbish. Looking at the ALS was rather interesting as it showed that the CPU isn’t near as complicated as I had first thought.
After the first test we started getting into even deeper subjects. In that section of the course, we talked about the internet, programming, databases, and hacking. I had no clue how the internet worked before this class, but now I know that it is just a bunch of servers (websites) and clients (PC computers and other stuff like that) working together to share data. It is most certainly not a series of tubes like that Stevens fellow said. This class also marked my first experience with HTML. I remember hating the text and image formatting phase of that assignment, but the rest of the assignment was kind of cool.
It was sort of interesting when we spoke on programing, but it wasn’t really anything I didn’t already know. During that lesson, I also got to use Scratch again. That had to be one of my favorite assignments I have ever done, as it let me practice game design again. Even though the last week of the assignment was one of the worst weeks of my relatively short life, I still think about Scratch quite fondly. The lesson on databases was rather odd to me. It was cool that SQL was that close to English, but then Dr. Brown punctuated his lesson with how the government has an information gathering department that just compiles information on the average citizen. That made me feel angry at how the government can get away with that sort of nonsense with no consequences! But I won’t rant any more on that rather unsavory subject.
The section on hacking was more frightening to me than thought provoking. It did prompt me to employ additional precautions for using the computer at home, but it mainly just freaked me out! I just hope that we find some way to harness this rather destructive force for good before people like Anonymous destroy us!
The third and last section of the course had to be my overall favorite. It covered robotics, AI, and virtual reality and gaming. The robots were really cool to use. I am still baffled that they were so easy to program and build! But then again, they were just Lego robots and not these android like beings that are being produced in laboratories today. The level of complexity in those robots like Leonardo is mind blowing. The talk on robots has also caused me to really think about the future of that field. As an avid science fiction fan, I hope for the day when we have something like Data from Star Trek, or a super powered hero like Robocop. But at the same time I fear the day when we could bring about our own doom with a Terminator style robot, or possibly even bring about a horrible weapon like a Metal Gear (bipedal nuclear tank/mech thing).
When we talked about AI, it simply reinforced the previous ideas that I had on the subject. Simply put, I still think that AI’s are exceptionally good at doing very stupid things. They may have improved, but they still are too stupid to do anything good in a game. They may sneak up on you and kill you in games, but only if you do something dumb too. The lesson also introduced me to chatbots. They are at least twice as dumb as the AI in video games.
The lesson on gaming was very thought provoking to me, and my favorite lesson of this term. The TED talks we watched on gaming have caused me to double my efforts on not just making my games fun, but also thought provoking and something that the player will be emotionally invested in. Also the talk of AR games in this and other lessons has prompted me to jot my own ideas for that field on paper. I think that gaming has come a long way since its start and I see nothing but more and more progress for the field in the future.
In conclusion, this class has certainly opened my eyes to the various fields of computer science and has also taught me that everything about the computer is neither good nor bad, but can be used for both. It has probably been my favorite class this rather odd term, and one I will to remember for quite some time.
So God bless you, kind reader, and have an excellent life and a very merry Christmas!
-Joshua Howell Curtis