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Computer Science and Information Technology…the end.

 

This class is “Computer Science and Information Technology.” To be honest, I didn’t know exactly what that meant when I signed up for this class. I only knew it was required for my degree. The name says it all and when we know something’s name, we have the power to conquer it. To say that I have enjoyed this class is quite lacking. I loved this class for many reasons and they are thus:

A little taste of everything: We got a taste of every aspect of computer science. Most of it was just enough to give a broad understanding of each branch of this science such as AI, Robotics, and Programming. I feel better prepared in search of my computer science degree now that I know there are many different fields available to me from which to choose.

The comics: The comics as texts, which I first hated, I learned to live with, and then finally learned to enjoy. The reason I say this is because I learned to associate the photos, pictures, and diagrams in our comic text with the information being presented. When I figured out how to do that, it was easier to recall the concepts. This was useful in test taking situations.

The lightheartedness: Dr. Brown has a humorous way of presenting information that is a great relief from many of the other professors who use a die-hard, strict approach. If learning is fun, it’s easier to absorb and more likely to stay with the student. I know that in my lifetime I remember every good teacher and all of them have similar teaching styles – they made learning fun. It works.

The mixed media: In this class we used blogging to keep track of our progress. This was something new to me but I have found it quite useful. We also had lecture notes, twitter, and the D2L site to access. Having all these different media to access was especially useful in this class. I know there were several times I had to download programs and use them. Most presented some type of challenge and I had to learn how to do it properly. It may sound simple, but it was very useful.

Take it as far as you want:  The approach in this class was laid back, but in a challenging way. The concept was that a subject was presented and a standard set by Dr. Brown for a certain amount of point value. This was a great way to get students to reach out and venture into the subject matter on their own to gain the points available. I did not feel pushed into learning more, it became an interest to learn more because I became more and more interested the deeper I delved into the material. The no-pressure approach may not work in some classes and it’s a fact some students have to be prodded along to do anything, but I find the “carrot on a  stick” approach to teaching a great way to let motivated students learn what they’re interested in and only meet the standard on some subjects they don’t like as well.

Point system: I like the point system for grading in this class. A certain point value is the goal and the student can work as hard as he or she wants to get as many points as possible. I think the grading was very fair. From what I’ve seen, if a decent amount of effort was given, full points were awarded – as it should be, I think.

Useful for real life: The best thing, IMO, about this class is that it’s useful in real life. Some subjects like biology, history, psychology, and philosophy are nice to learn, but they rarely help in day to day living (unless of course the person is a teacher or a psychologist). I have learned how to choose, build, manipulate, and control my computer – which I use daily for many different tasks – and on which I will work as employment probably until I die. Needless to say this was very useful stuff to me.

More classes at PSCC focusing on SQL and programming await me and I know that this class is a great foundation for those. Although I am still not a fan of virtual worlds which I categorize as gaming (which most of it I see as a waste of valuable time), I am beginning to see how future technology is evolving. The concept of what we learn now will be outdated when I finally get my BS is a little scary, but keeping up with the times with new skills and abilities is what it’s all about. I’m pretty sure after this class that I can do that.

Category:  CSIT1110     

Alice and Greenfoot…

Greenfoot, I wasn’t too crazy about because it requires the basic knowledge of Java before beginning anything in it. I downloaded, installed it and wasn’t that pleased with what I could do without learning Java first.

Alice, on the other hand, I really liked. It was sort of like Scratch that we used a few weeks ago. I found it much easier to use and understand. I completed all the tutorials and created a very simple animated character from a jpeg I had on my computer.  Alice is a program that I think I will keep on my computer and use. I don’t know what exactly I will create or for what purpose, but I like the concept of the program and what it’s capable of creating.

Category:  CSIT1110     

VR…if it’s not real, what good is it?

What is real? Hmm. If it’s not real, then what good is it? That was my assumption of virtual reality until this week. In my defense, I fight with two teenage boys daily on attempting to get them to do ANYTHING except sit in front of an Xbox 360. They are so immersed in their virtual world, that anything else seems mundane to them. They don’t seem to realize that when I say “you need to go out and be with your friends” that I mean interact socially and learn to be around “real” – and here I mean “breathing, physically touchable” people. Both my boys have online “friends” that they only know by their pseudonames and have never met. In a real-live social situation, they’re sort of out of the loop. They don’t know how to read body language or speak on current topics, and they are baffled by the dishwasher.

HERE ARE SOME THINGS I WISH “VIRTUAL REALITY” GAMERS KNEW MORE ABOUT:

 

BUT ESPECIALLY THIS…

In my opinion, gaming and VR distorts what is really important to life. This is not healthy. This is my concept of virtual reality: it’s not reality at all. It’s a made up world of “feel good” where they are in charge of things that don’t mean anything. Will it make them smarter? No. Will it help them get a job? No. Will it help them in life living as an adult? No. I can see no advantage to gaming other than it wastes time and gets them yelled at for not cleaning their room.

The only advantage I can see of virtual reality is entertainment and possibly helping post traumatic stress disorder as mentioned in our text. Obviously, I am not a gamer. I do have a Nintendo 64 and I play it a few times a week when everything else that has to be done is completed. I use it as entertainment and to relax having fun. That is what gaming needs to be. I have personally seen my teenagers throw things, swear like sailors, and become so frustrated over some quest that they literally would not sleep or eat for days until the “mission” was completed. This is not healthy or productive to them. I have literally had to shut down the power in their entire rooms from the breaker box in our house to get them to move from the monitors and game systems. I guess I’m just “old and don’t understand” like they tell me, but from what I see it’s the gamers that just don’t get “reality.” Virtual reality? It’s all hogwash to me until it can actually help people in some way.

 

It’s true, the good ole’ days weren’t great…

…but at least we knew how to imagine, pretend, and interact without a controller, an RPG, and a script.

My kids think hopscotch is an alcoholic drink and playing jacks? Forget about it. They’d never understand.

Category:  CSIT1110     

ROBOTICS…

ROBOTICS ASSIGNMENT: Research a robot

Perhaps the greatest robot of film and fame is R2D2 from the Star Wars saga. In 1977, Star Wars was released and the little droid resembling a very cool trash can was unveiled.  Although R2 often beeped and buzzed his intentions, his silent voice was heard in his loyal actions to his friends. Along with his other comical relief sidekick C-3PO, the often humorous Laurel and Hardy duo offered one of the first glimpses of futuristic, interactive, serviceable, friendly robots to the mass media.

The impact that R2D2 had in relation to the film was that he emulated a general feeling of devotion and bravery to combat malevolent forces threatening humans. Even without a speaking voice, R2’s actions were always for the good of humanity even to the point of the possibility of sacrificing himself to save others. Unlike his cowardly golden friend, R2 was creative in finding ways to produce diversions, using tools, and saving the day.

The unit of R2D2 used in the film housed an actor named Kenny Baker who was an actor with dwarfism. Inside the R2D2 unit were controls for navigation and the simple emotive moves on screen for the little, loveable droid were enacted precisely to allow the audience to understand R2’s behavior and the reasoning behind it. Interaction with other droids and humans allowed R2 to display his character through his simple and sometimes comical actions. A video found here highlights many of R2D2’s more memorable moments in the Star Wars films series. R2D2 Funny Clips Video

We know that R2D2 wasn’t alive, but as we watched the brave droid battle for good, it was very easy to believe that the small metal unit was sentient, conscious, and had emotions. Through his actions, we certainly learn that R2 is self-aware although not fearful of any type of live action gunfire seeming to ignore it most of the time. Since R2 is a being and was designed as an “astromech” which is a traveling computer and repair device, it is logical to assume that he was designed to simply function upon orders from a human or other higher-ranking device. The question then becomes why a simple repair device has consciousness. Did this conscious/emotional sentience emerge from an evolution of some type or was the droid created with these traits? If he was designed with consciousness, then why wasn’t he given a voice?

R2D2 holds a place in Science Fiction culture and allowed movie goers to see and marvel future technology nearly 35 years ago. Silent, yet full of emotion, the little one meter tall droid captured our hearts as well as our curiosities. R2D2′s plight may not hold the goal of becoming human like Commander Data of the Star Trek series, but his heart of humanity is clearly seen even through his white and silver case. If you don’t believe R2D2 wants the best for humanity, see his public service announcement video from 1982 against smoking. R2D2 and C3PO – No Smoking Video

 

 

Category:  CSIT1110     

AI…

After watching the videos for the class and seeing AI “in action” with computers and robots, I wasn’t that impressed. Yes, I realize that it is very difficult to “teach” a computer to recognize a cup, but I had assumed that technology was further advanced than what was out there on video.  I realize that programming software to learn based on associations of recognizable patterns is a difficult task. I also realize that instructing a computer or robotic machine to use previous patterns to navigate and recognize things that it has never come in contact with is a large, daunting task. However, I would assume that the whole field would be more advanced than it is at this point. Possibly the videos I watched were outdated or that there are other AI projects much more advanced that do not have videos for public viewing. I’m quite positive that this is the case.

AI seems like a novel project and the goal would be to give common sense to a computer/robotic unit because it would be simple to program general trivial information. Learning what to do with a load of information is the key. I do hope that common sense is served like a Big Mac one day and that people who are running low can get it through a drive through, but I doubt that this will be the case. Never once on the Matrix did I hear any of them ask to be “loaded up” with common sense. Like any computer or device capable of true thinking, learning comes by repetition and re-programming from mistakes. Like raising a child and teaching it right from wrong, I wonder who is writing the moral code and I am hoping that the morals of the programmer are sound.

From all the information on AI this week, I still don’t see where creating machines smarter than humans will benefit the world. Perhaps I am incapable of that type of realization at this point or it may be that I don’t possess the capability of creative vision when it comes to what is possible with this technology. The only “productive” uses I see are gaming and that is far from being useful other than simple brain and eye candy.

One of the most interesting things this week, I thought, was genetic algorithms and using them to test engineering designs. Like the example with jet engines, I can see where using such constructed programming would aid in design and not waste time building projects that were not as efficient.

Just as in the movie “War Games” where the computer learns at the end that war is deadly and nobody really wins, I hope that we don’t go too far too fast and things get out of control. It could be deadly to the planet.

One other think I liked this week was a link to iGod. I typed in the questions below and the answers I received were entertaining. I really had fun with that bot.

Chat with iGod

 

Category:  CSIT1110     

Robotics…amazing!

After viewing the video links for this section, I went on a YouTube crazy 2 hour long watch of all the modern robot/humanoid creations and I was simply blown away. They are sheer genius and technologically brilliant. My favorite video is this one about Gemenoid-DK. The movement, although slightly jerky, is very good and the other video showing the facial “emotions” is great as well. When I first saw the last video, I thought it was an actual human just making faces and pretending to be a robot.

This is a robot. Amazing.

The other interesting part of this section, to me, was about John Dee. I am a fan of the Michael Scott series of “The Alchemist” which is a fictional, magical series of books. In the book, John Dee is a character who is an imortal magician in search of power, but whose storyline parallels the real John Dee. Interested, I read a little about him online and he is a really unusual guy to read about.

Since I am an online student, I wish I had access to the “hands-on” robotics that the land-based class has the opportunity to investigate. However, I have watched videos of student interactions with most of what is in our study this week. This was one of my favorites – it solves a Rubik’s cube. Yes, it looks simple, but I remember trying to work those dang things in the 80s, and I never got one worked!

Robotics, to me, is something that I will probably never venture into personally, but the possibilities using robotic techniques, though, is something that I hope will be used to serve humanity and not cause harm. The potential for disaster looms in the not too distant future if nanotechnology falls into the hands of those who plan to use it to destroy. Looks like the “gray goo” might be possible after all. Very scary.

Category:  CSIT1110     

Would You Like To Play A Game?

The famous words from the 1980′s movie “War Games.” That was one of my favorite movies for years. Computers were out of my reach growing up not only because we could never have hoped to afford one, but because nobody sold any in the small town I live in. Nowadays I spend most of my day plucking away at the keyboard and I’ve fought my way through war zones with viruses (viri?), trojans, and worms in my years behind the monitor. A few times things were so corrupted I had to ask for help from a “pro” and pay for the service instead of losing all my data, but a few times I wiped it all clean and started over from the beginning.

I find it ironic that this week’s topic was Security and yet we learned about all the famous hackers, what they did, how they did it, and all kinds of ways that black hatters make their mark…but we learned nothing about what to do about any of it or how to set up a single security measure against any of it. That sort of made me giggle after I read all of our lecture notes this week. I guess knowing the enemy is the first step of defense, I suppose.

Although I know a little about keeping my firewall operational and my anti-virus software up to date, I know very little about how viruses, sniffers, and spyware operate. The most annoying thing in the world was once when my browser address bar was hijacked to always go to some other homepage other than the one I set. I thought I had finally got it fixed and then it started again. I went through that for three weeks before getting help to get rid of it. Whoever wrote that code was a terrorist and his parents were never married.

I liked this though…

Most of what I know about computer security is this: with shady downloads on the internet, sometimes you’re the dog, and sometimes you’re the hydrant.

Category:  CSIT1110     

Programming – Scratch and Pausch

The video of Randy Pausch and the virtual reality experiences was great even though it was from 1998. I can only imagine how far VR has come since then – I have no access to anything VR and have never worn a headset. I read “Last Lecture” by Pausch a couple of years ago and it was a very moving book. He actually wrote the book for his young children when he was dying with cancer. My husband died in 2006 of colon cancer, so I know how difficult it is to watch a terminally ill person suffer and succumb to this disease. Pausch put everything he had into his book and he affected many lives with his bravery and dedication to his passions. I only hope to live as bold and influentially as he did.


Scratch. O – M – G. I think I have found a new addiction with this program because I just love it. I am still working on my project, but it’s coming along very well. My project is now finished and I am very proud of it (10/23/11). Here is the link to my Scratch project. (Click the cat!)

The more I work in Scratch, the easier it is to control. At first I had no idea how the controls interacted, but the visual drag and drop puzzle pieces make it simple. Last Fall semester, I had CSIT 1050 which was writing basic C+ programs. Scratch takes programming from manually typing in code and puts the code into little blocks to be rearranged. It’s very easy to see how using Scratch is really programming without knowing the exact code beneath. For my project, I drew the characters in Illustrator and exported them as PNG files. It was easier in Illustrator to draw one sprite and modify it with layers as needed. I loved the HTML section of this course for the last two weeks, but I think using Scratch is now my favorite thing in this course so far. I am going to attempt to teach it to my 10 year old son. I think he’ll take an interest. One day he could become a programmer. Who knows?

Category:  CSIT1110     

HTML Page loaded….and databases/SQL

HTML…
The creation of a webpage by hand was, by far, one of the most fun things I have done all semester in any class. Although I got a little frustrated at a few times because I wasn’t sure if I was meeting all of the required elements necessary for a good grade on the assignment, I took the opportunity to go beyond what I felt necessary just for the grade and try out many new things. In this process, I finally was able to tackle using tables – something I had never done, and also using frames – something I had always wanted to conquer, but didn’t really have time to investigate in depth. I will be using HTML a lot for other classes and employment, so this assignment was very useful. The best thing about learning HTML from this class, however, was the sink-or-swim/trial-and-error method. The ability to open the .html file from a browser is simple and the code can be changed and viewed at every step along the way. This makes it very easy to see the changes and what the code does in a browser. This was my favorite week yet in this class. My webpage is located here:

  • My webpage at PSTCC11 – only available to me and those with access
  • My webpage hosted at Dropbox and available publicly through this link

I wish there was a way to access everyone’s created pages because I’d like to see everyone’s codes and how they used them in different ways. Hopefully, we’ll get links after they are all posted.


DATABASES & SQL…
On the plus side I have a little experience with MS Access and the whole relational database process from previous employment. On the down side, my degree is Database Development and I was hoping that we’d get MUCH more hands-on with using database tables and record manipulation. This, however, is just an introductory class to computer technology, so I wasn’t expecting too much with databases here. Those classes will come soon enough. SQL has its simple commands for retrieval of data, updating, deleting, and such, but from what I’ve read SQL seems like a very powerful language set of commands to control phenomenally large chunks of data. It also seems that SQL could be particularly nasty if used incorrectly. The idea that so much data could be corrupted, mismanaged, and “tangled” up by not understanding the intricacies of what one command could do – very scary thought. I am soon to take an SQL course at PSTCC and I really look forward to it. Like using HTML, the best way to learn about a simple database structure is to simply work with it. Oracle has an online “academy” that offers free instruction on introductory database design that includes the software and tutorials. I’ve learned a lot from it. If you’d like to check it out go here.

All in all, this week was great, the quizzes weren’t that difficult, the assignments were informative and hands-on, and I’m learning material that I am enjoying. Can’t ask for more than that.

Category:  CSIT1110     

HTML by hand…post 1

Although I have a teensy bit of experience with HTML from creating a webpage with the help of  a software package in the past, doing it by hand is a bit of a challenge. The concept of creating a plain and simple webpage with just the head, title, and body as the skeleton is easy to understand. The more I began to read about how to arrange elements within these simple confines, however, the more complicated things became, yet were still using building blocks to create more and more complex pages. It’s all about where elements are placed in the html code and the parameters set for each element. The most complex things so far for me to understand are: tables and how they are used to design a more complex page; and the style sheets and how they are used. Starting from a basic notepad skeleton, I’ve been copying and pasting different elements into the notepad.html file and opening it in the browser to see the different effects of what I’ve been reading and learning about at the multiple html tutorial sites online. So far I’ve had a lot of fun with it and some things have not worked out, but I think it’s because they didn’t contain the information in the right format for that element. This is probably the best trial and error-type learning assignment I’ve ever had and I can’t think of any other way that a person could learn html without being hands-on with it in this way. On this post, I tried to figure out some type of example to post or some graphic to show my progress, but I couldn’t think of anything that may aid visually to this explanation. All in all, this is a challenging assignment and can be as complex as I have time to make it, or as simple as just getting the required elements in. I will try to at least add a few things not necessarily required for the assignment if I can, but as additions that I learned on my own to enhance my webpage assignment. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all works out in the end.

Category:  CSIT1110     

Assembly Language Simulator

At first, when I began on the ALS, I didn’t have a clue what was going on. I had to learn that “READ 15″ really meant “ask the user to input data and store that data in the RAM box number 15.” The next hurdle was to figure out that “ADD 7, R1″ wasn’t adding the number 7 to another number stored, but it was actually the command of “add the value of whatever value is found on line 7 of the code at register 1 and then add that value to the previous entry.” So, it was totally confusing at first, but once I figured out where everything was going after it was entered, it was really pretty simple to watch and understand. When I think about the ALS being the simplest model of what is actually going on inside the guts of my desktop, it boggles my mind at how fast these binary numbers have to be shooting through there to make everything work seamlessly. I use hardware and software daily and I never knew how it all worked. As far as software goes, I understand the basic concepts that we’ve studied this week, however, I have no idea how an OS or a commercial application like Illustrator is coded or programmed. That is beyond the scope of this introductory class, but still something interesting to ponder. Our first exam is coming up and I’m wondering about the format of the exam and if the questions will be similar to the quizzes we’ve taken. I think I’ll re-read my notes, review the quizzes, figuring on binary, and review what computer guru came up with which concepts and I’ll be okay. That’s the tentative plan anyway. Software rules.

Category:  CSIT1110     

Me? Build a Computer? :0

I have never built a computer or even had one custom made because the thought that I would have to choose the parts individually confused and scared me. This was because I did not understand the components enough to know how they related to each other. This assignment was a little intimidating at first until I began to search the recommended sites and learn about the computer requirements individually and how they connected to form a unit that I wanted to create specifically for what I needed. As I watched the videos for this week, read the websites, recommendations, reviews, and specs on all the parts, it became even clearer to me that this may be something I could actually accomplish on my own. This assignment was even less scary than I had anticipated and even let me shop and spend virtual money I didn’t even have! How can a gal go wrong with that type of assignment?


Motherboard – ASUS Crosshair IV Formula Motherboard – AMD 890FX, Socket AM3, ATX, DDR3, USB 3.0, RAID, SATA 6.0GB/s (need 1 @ 229.99) I chose this motherboard for its functionality and expansion capabilities. It has a max of 16 GB Ram, which is plenty for what I would need. It is an ATX, which is standard and easy to find a case to fit it, and it has everything I would need on it with 9 total USB ports because it seems I never have enough USB ports. (Plus it’s red and pretty. I know, I know…)


CPU processor – AMD HDE00ZFBGRBOX Phenom II 1100T Black Edition Six Core Processor – 3.30GHz, 6MB Cache, 2000MHz (4000 MT/s) FSB, Retail, Socket AM3, Processor with Fan (need 1 @ 189.99)

This processor was chosen for its speed and that it is supposedly faster than the Intel i7.  With a 3.30 GHz processor speed it is perfectly fine for my needs since I am not a gamer or have a great need for the highest speeds. When compared to other CPUs, this one seemed to meet the standard I wanted.


Case – Cooler Master RC-942-KKN1 HAF X ATX Full Tower Computer Case – ATX, 230mm Red LED Fan, USB 2.0/3.0, 9x Expansion Slots. *Supports XL-ATX, 4-way SLI and Quad Crossfire X* (need 1 @ 179.99)

I chose this case for several reasons. (1)There are 4 USB ports and a headphone jack on the front at the top of the case, not at the bottom so that when I put the case in the floor at my desk, they are easy to reach. (2) There is a safety cover for the power button, which is good because I have grandchildren who like to press buttons and if they can’t find them, they can’t push them. (3) The case has casters on the bottom for ease of movement so that the back is easily accessible. (4) There is a clear side so that it’s easy to see inside the unit. (5) The front fan is lit with a red led which is just plain cool looking and it matches my pretty red motherboard. Yes, I know…enough already with the pretty red board.  :)


Power supply – Cooler Master RS700-AMBAD3-US Silent Pro M 700W Power Supply – ATX, Modular, 700 Watt, 80+ Bronze Certified, SLI Ready, 135mm Ultra Silent Fan (need 1 @ 129.99)

This power supply was chosen because it fits with the case and also because it’s 700 watts and ultra silent. Some the other components in my list require 500 watts, so this was chosen to supply ample power to the components.


RAM – Patriot PXD34G1866ELK Viper Xtreme Performance Desktop Memory Kit – 4GB (2 x 2GB) PC3-15000, DDR3-1866MHz, 9-11-9-27 CAS Latency, XPM Ready  (need 2x @ 44.99 ea)

This was the specific type of ram required by the motherboard and I chose to put 8 GB ram in the machine. I am not a gamer and the programs I use do not require large amounts of ram to perform in the way that I use them. If in the future I needed more ram, I can add an additional 8 GB as the motherboard supports that addition.


DVD Burner – LG GH22NP21R 22x Internal DVD Burner – DVD±R 22x, DVD-R Dual Layer 12x, DVD-RW 6x, DVD-RAM 12x, DVD+R Dual Layer 16x, DVD+RW 8x, CD-R 48x, CD-RW 32x, PATA (need 2 @ 24.99 ea)

This DVD/CD burner was chosen from several that were all very similar in specs. I chose this one because of the speeds and that it burns DVD-R dual layer at 12x. My old one is much slower than this, so this would be an upgrade even though I do not burn that many CDs or DVDs. The price on all of the DVD burners was fairly consistent and inexpensive and this one was about middle of the road, but had the speed that I thought was comparable to the price.


Hard Drive – Seagate TSD-1000NS2 Constellation Hard Drive – 3.5″, 1TB, 7200RPM, 32MB, SATA, SATA-3Gb/s (need 1 @ 99.99)

Lots of storage space for cheap with good RPM is the reason this hard drive was chosen. The models available were nearly identical, but the price per unit of storage on this model was the best for the speed given. I chose the terabyte model because I download a lot of files and I like to work with graphics in Photoshop and Illustrator for my own use and those files can get quite large at times. Also, my music collection is growing and I don’t want to worry with space issues for awhile.


Sound card – Creative Labs 70SB104000000 Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio Sound Card – PCIe (need 1 @ 54.99)

Audio is something that isn’t that important to me that much. I like listening to music while I work, but I am not an audio Nazi. If I can hear it and I have decent speakers, then fine. I’m cool with it. This card was middle of the pack with its features but not over the top with junk I’ll never use. It was a reasonable price and a little better than what I would probably need.


Graphics card - Diamond 6570PE31G ATI AMD Radeon HD 6570 Video Graphics Card – 1GB, GDDR3, Dual Link DVI, HDMI, VGA (need 1 @ 69.99)

This graphics card was chosen because it is a step up from average, but not the most expensive model. It offers better performance for Windows 7 and GPU acceleration for IE and MS Office, which I use all day every day. Oh, and also because it’s pretty and red and will match all my pretty red components inside the case which I can see because it has a clear side. Won’t that be pretty and red and just cute? So, I like red and pretty things, okay? So sue me! Besides if something is aesthetically pleasing as well as functional then it’s worth more to the user IMHO.


The above components come to a total of $884.89 without taxes or shipping charges. Of course I could add a keyboard, mouse, pimped out speakers, new cable modem, new wireless modem, and a bunch of other stuff, but the truth is I just don’t need those things because I already have them. I was pleasantly surprised that I could build this machine for under a thousand dollars. Blast you, Dr. Brown, for this assignment! Now my head is swirling with the possibilities of the ultimate machine I could create with just enough courage that I could actually do it. It was an evil, dastardly ruse.

From watching the videos of building a computer, it seems fairly straightforward and I’m sure there are instructions included with the components. From what I can tell, although I have never built one, the first thing to do is to make sure the area is clean and free from dust and to make sure that I’m grounded before working on anything. The CPU needs to go onto the motherboard first by lining up the corners and pins underneath and push the lever down. Next would be the CPU cooler which goes on top of the CPU and lines up with hooks and knobs on the bracket. Flip the lever and click it into place and plug it into the motherboard where the CPU fan plug is. Next is installing the ram by checking the correct direction and inserting it into the slot until the arms click into place. The back plate connector is next and it fits into the back of the case and pops in. It should line up with the components on the motherboard. The motherboard gets installed onto the case by lining it up with the back plate and the case screw points to hold it. Next is installing the hard drive by taking out the drive cage, slipping the drive in, screwing it into place and replacing the front cover section which clicks into place. The optical drive installs by taking out the front section, sliding the drive in, aligning the screw holes and screwing it into place. The front panel connectors need to be connected and their 2-pin ends fit onto a pin block which is plugged into the motherboard where it fits into a keyed position. The front panel connectors may include the power switch, reset switch, hard drive light, and other lights. All of the USBs, front panel audio, and firewire needs to be connected with their connectors checking polarity of the connections if necessary. The power supply slides in, screws in, and connects with cables. Most of the cables are color coded for the power supply. The graphics card goes into the PCI express slot where it pops in and requires a screw. The power cables, SATA cables, ATX power connector, optical drive, and fans need to be plugged in. Everything at this point should be plugged in and should be tested to see if it works properly. If so, then the cables can then be zip tied or run along the channels to clean it up inside. When everything is working it’s time to change the BIOS to boot off a CD, install the OS and then install the chipset, network, and graphics card drivers and finally check for windows update security fixes. The rest is installing software of choice and starting enjoying the computer.

Doesn’t sound too hard. I think I could do it. :D

**This post was a beast. I just got my destop back with the new motherboard because I fried the old one last Thursday. I had the post completed in MS Word, but had not posted it because the little laptop was so friggin slow. I had been working on a 10″ EEE PC laptop all week and was about to pull my hair out. But everything is up and spiffy now and I’m a happy camper. :D

Category:  CSIT1110     

BiNaRy

Greatest quote ever regarding binary:

“There are 10 types of people who understand binary.
Those who do and those who dont.”

Classic.

I made a binary converter that will convert binary (10101011) into a “real” number (like 171). It is located here.

My name in binary is: 1001011 1001001 1001101 1000010 1000101 1010010 1001100 1111001

The videos for last week and this week were very interesting. I especially liked a few of the comments, such as:

“When computers can build themselves, will human beings be obsolete?” 

“We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist using technologies that haven’t been invented in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.” 

“The amount of new technical information is doubling every 2 years. That means that for students starting a 4 year technical degree half of what they learn in the first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study.”

It’s hard to imagine that things are moving so quickly and by the time I finish my degree what I learned initially will be out of date. Constant immersion within the field of computer science is necessary for those of us who plan on using the technology as a career. Sort of scary all that responsibility to keep up with the changing structures and innovations, but exciting.

The videos for week 2 of learning binary were invaluable to me. As a visual learner it was much easier to understand the concept of converting decimal to binary than simply reading instuctions. Of particular interest to me this week was vector graphics and how the concept of exponential scaling the image involved the relationships of objects such as circles and lines to create the final larger image. In Illustrator I have worked with vector graphics for years, but never knew exactly why the images did not pixelate as bitmapped images do. The image heading at the top of this page was created in Illustrator as a vector image.

Lying in bed the other night it struck me that “All is number” is really so true when I think about how many numbers are used and in so many ways. Everything from the measurements to build my house to the exactness of the formulas in my toothpaste involve numbers. It’s mind-boggling. I think, perhaps, that the most important numbers right now to me, though, as a student are those that involve my grades and GPA.

 This week has been a doozy. My motherboard fried in my desktop and I am using a teeny tiny EEE laptop 10″ screen to do everything and it’s soooooo slow and just not what I am used to using daily. Luckily, I was under a warranty and everything was backed up and saved, so nothing was lost – not even my money. It was eye-opening, however, to learn how much I depend on my desktop computer. After 2 days I was feeling stressed out without it and after 4 days I am a basket case. I’m considering that I may need therapy for my separation anxiety from it, but that just makes me sound weird.

I’m looking forward to week 3 in this class about hardware. I’ve always wanted to know more about building my own computer from parts I select, but I didn’t know what was best for my needs. Now I’ll have the opportunity to figure that out and I can’t wait to begin…as soon as I get my destop back. Ugh.  :-(

Category:  CSIT1110     

Biology Grades Calculator

 Biology Grades Calculator

This is a Biology Grades Calculator I created in Excel and am working on embedding it into a blog so it will be interactive to whomever decides to use it. This is just a test on this blog page…Kimberly



Category:  Thoughts     

Blogging virgin – CSIT1110

This is my first attempt at blogging, so I’m excited to see where this leads.

The CSIT1110 class is required for the AAS in Database Design I plan on having in a few more semesters. In previous employment, I worked with Excel daily, and then database in MS Access. I found the concept of a database and the power of the program to be much more than the limited functions we were using at my job. By researching further on the internet about databasing skills, I also discovered SEO/SEM interesting. Already having a background in graphic design and advertising/marketing sales, I thought that the educational goal I would set would be a mix of database skills (primarily Oracle/SQL), marketing, some programming (Java, C+), and a little networking fundamentals thrown in for good measure. I’ve created a couple of websites in the past with frontend programs like Publisher and done some light HTML coding, but nothing major. My knowledge of hardware is limited, but it is an interesting subject of study to me, so I’m eager to learn more about building a computer from acquired components and how they react together to perform efficiently.

There’s not much to tell, but I am an adult student in my early forties, a mother of two sons and a grandson, and a partner to a very special person. I enjoy playing the piano, guitar, and the flute, sewing, gardening, oil painting, and freelance graphic design projects. I am called a “chart-making fool” by my friends because I study educational subjects by making charts of everything.

I look forward to reading everyone’s introduction and I’m hoping that this class will lay a good foundation of computer architecture on which I can build and grow.

Category:  CSIT1110