Week 14: Final post

My experience:

When I first entered this class i fully expected that I would know most of the information that was going to be covered. I have been around computers all my life and I expected this course to be something about using Windows software like PowerPoint or excel. I couldn’t have been more wrong… This class alone has taught me more about how computers work, programming languages, networking, and what the future could hold for technology then I have learned in any other experiences. I found out more about computer programming in this class then the entire semester in my intro to java class. Scratch, ALICE, and Greenfoot were all extremely helpful examples of what it takes to program. Also, the Mindstorm robots gave a little perspective on practical programming, and how just trying to make a toy do a simple task can become complicated. It is not all about the later chapters though, I knew nothing about binary or assembly language, now I understand how both work, and how to count, and convert binary.

To future students:

This class by far has been my favorite this semester. I feel like if there is one class every degree seeking student should take, it would be this one. Dr. Brown teaches this class in a way that is easy to follow and kept me wanting to come to class the next day. I also like that Dr. Brown isn’t just a teacher. He has had practical experience in this field and is truly a subject matter expert that knows how to break down the problems and explain them in a way that makes sense.

To Dr. Brown,

Keep teaching how you are, hopefully it will rub off on some of the other teachers. I thought the course as a whole was enjoyable and informative. I would have to say the sections that I enjoyed the most were programming languages, A.I., and robotics. I found that Greenfoot was helpful in trying to learn java method and class decorations, thank you for recommending it. I look forward to seeing you in advanced java next semester.

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Week 13: Virtual Reality

I have been playing games of all sorts since i was old enough to figure out the DOS prompt. In the old days it was simple 2d side scrolling action, but now I’m a little more sophisticated. Now I play an assortment of games on the PS3, XBOX360, WII, and of course my PC. I have been playing World of Warcraft for about 2 years now. A lot of people tell me I’m just throwing money away to play that game since I have to pay 14.99 for it every month, but what they don’t see is how much I’m actually SAVING. When I play a PS3 or XBOX 360 game, I tend to beat them in about 1-3 days depending on the length. Then what? Spend another 50-60 dollars to buy a new one or rent one for $10 for a week? That is the cycle I ran into before starting to play WOW. Just about once a week I’d be hitting Gamestop or Blockbuster to look for a new challenge. With WOW, you can’t beat it. I know that sounds stupid. Why would you play a game you can’t beat? Its a progressive game, you level up, get better gear, raid with your friends, work the auction house, or just stand around and talk. You can learn real life skills while playing, too. I figured out how to  give instructions to a raid of 10 people so we could defeat a boss that we were having some trouble with. If you recognizes this picture you will understand why…

and here is one after he died…

I guess my point is video games are here to stay. I definitely think they are a good thing. How else could I play such an elaborate game with people from France and the United States at the same time. They connect people in a way that nothing else can. I think virtual reality will eventually overtake real life. I anticipate in a few years people wont go to work, their avatar will. I will leave you with a screenshot of my brother and I standing in front of the Lich King. He is the dancing tree with the pig pet…

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Week 12: AI

Artificial Intelligence is not as complicated as I thought it might be. Seeing how the “game tree” works for chess and other programs was interesting. I particularly enjoyed the documentary Transcendent Man. Ray Kurzweil has quite a few great ideas of what the future might hold for us in the next 20-40 years. Programing and working with the Mind storm robots was fun and interesting. It was neat to see how little code could make them work. Thanks Dr. Brown for another great week, I look forward to Monday.

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Week 11: Robotics

I enjoyed this week learning to build and program the Mindstorm robots. It gives me a different perspective on programing. It is more difficult then it seems at first to try to program movements in an unpredictable environment versus in just a computer interface. I enjoyed this weeks video about the robotic car challenge and how that race spawned what is now the Google car. I look forward to Monday and more robotics.

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Week 9: Hacking

I really liked learning about some of the history of hacking. Most of the people doing it were not trying to harm anyone or steal anything. They did it for the challenge. I think if people never tried hacking the phones and computers, a lot of the security measures we have in place now wouldn’t have been thought up yet. I think more good has come from people thinking outside the box and creating their own computer programs then bad. I look forward to a future where more and more open source software is being used, and less of the expensive commercial products.

Hacking and malware will be around as long as there are security programs trying to keep people out. As security systems advance so will the complexity of viruses and hacks. There will always be someone somewhere trying, just because he or she can, to break into computer systems. Thanks Dr. Brown for another informative week. I look forward to Monday.

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Week 8: Programming in Scratch

Scratch is an amazing tool for learning some basic concepts of a programming language. I found it to be pretty easy to use and self explanatory. I liked the fact that if I wasn’t sure what a function would do, all I had to do is right click it and the program gave me a detailed description of how and when to use that function. The only drawback I saw was I wasn’t able to use a dynamic background. I had some ideas about having video playback going on in the background but i was not able to import it. I don’t know if it was just my problem or if it was not part of the program. In any case, if I had to make one change it would be to include video.

As far as the lecture given by Randy Pausch, I found it inspiring that even while he was facing his own death he would take his time to continue his work and teaching. He had a very upbeat and positive attitude towards his whole situation, and I wish the world had more people like him in it. It is sad to see a man of his intellect and drive die before his time. Who knows what he could have come up with if he only had a few more years to think… Thanks as always Dr. Brown for another great week I look forward to Monday.

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Week 7: HTML & SQL

I’m still surprised how easy creating a web page can be. Starting from scratch however, does take a lot of extra time, requires you to be organized, and know the HTML code. It could be avoided by using a constructor but that wouldn’t help with attempting to learn the language. Databases are amazing. Most are always changing and being updated. Thanks to Edgar Codd, the inventor of SQL, we have an easily manipulated data base system to enter and retrieve data from.

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Week 6: Networking & HTML

I’d have to say a lot of the networking principals I already knew before coming into this class with my experience at Comcast. However, it was good to get a refresher course on the principals behind TCP\IP routing and network topology. Also, i didn’t know anything about Vinton Cerf or  Robert Kahn. No, I didn’t think Al Gore had anything to do with inventing the Internet but I didn’t know who did either. Amazingly this week I learned how to write some simple HTML. I was pretty worried that HTML would be like java or another high level programming language that may be difficult to understand, but I am glad that is not the case. After learning only a few commands, it is easy to start putting a web page together. Thank you Dr. Brown for another great week. I’m looking forward to Monday to start learning about databases and SQL.

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Week 4: ALS & Thoughts

I found the assembly language simulator to be fairly simple to understand after a little explanation. It showed how the computer obtains its information and then uses it. So far this semester, I haven’t had any trouble understanding the material covered. Dr. Brown teaches in such a way that it makes sense. I appreciate all the thought and time he has put into making this class enjoyable. I find myself looking forward to this class every Monday and Wednesday.

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Week 3: Building a computer

I would use the following parts to build my dream machine:

Case:NZXT M59-001BK M59 Gaming Mid Tower Case $49.99 from tiger direct, http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=5222597&Sku=A406-1094

Motherboard:ASUS P6T7 WS SuperComputer Motherboard $409.99 from tiger direct, http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=5023031&Sku=A455-2906

Video card:EVGA 015-P3-1580-AR GeForce GTX 580 Video Card 499.99 from tiger direct, http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=6939690&Sku=E145-0580

RAM:Kingston KHX1600C9D3K2/8GX HyperX Desktop Memory Kit – 12gb 145.99 from tiger direct, http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=7104116&Sku=K24-9917

CPU:Intel BX80613i7980X Core i7 980X Extreme Edition Processor, $999.99 from tiger direct, http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=9461&Sku=I69-980X

Hard Drive:Hitachi Deskstar 0S03086 3.5″ Hard Drive – 3TB, 199.99, from tiger direct, http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=7152490&Sku=H450-9006

Power Supply:Kingwin LAZER 850W Power Supply – 850-Watt, 119.99, from tiger direct, http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=5222602&Sku=K450-2534

Sound Card:Creative Labs 70SB088600002 SoundBlaster X-FI Titanium Fatal1ty Pro PCIe Sound Card, 139.99, from tiger direct, http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3901279&Sku=C44-3390

Input:Logitech G510 Gaming Keyboard, 119.99, http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=6627210&CatId=142

Razer RZ01-00120100-R3U1 Mamba Wireless Gaming Laser Mouse, 119.99, tiger direct http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4651278&CatId=143

Output: Sony – BRAVIA / 55″ Class / 1080p / 240Hz / 3D LED-LCD HDTV, $1,998.99, best buy, http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Sony+-+BRAVIA+/+55%22+Class+/+1080p+/+240Hz+/+3D+LED-LCD+HDTV/9905007.p?id=1218192431195&skuId=9905007

I would start by putting the CPU on the motherboard followed by clamping the heat sync on top of it. Then i would install the ram in the given slots making sure that it lines up correctly and it clamps in place. The video and sound cards are next. I would make sure they line up in there proper place so they are easily accessible from the outside of the case. I would then install the mother board into the case using the given screws. Then I would install the hard drive by popping out the desired location on the case and connecting it in its proper place to the motherboard. Finally, I would install the power supply probably near the top of the case, and connect power to the motherboard in call the correct locations depending on voltage. I chose not to have an optical drive as most software now comes in many different forms and is usually just as easily downloaded so it is hardly needed. I would then connect the mouse, keyboard, and “monitor” boot the computer to make sure it works and install the OS.

Cost of parts: $2304.92

Cost of TV: $1999.99

Cost of dream setup: Priceless…. or $4304.91 + tax

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