Don’t Forget the Off Button

This has been the most eye-opening class I’ve ever had. We have gone from the Difference Engine to Virtual Reality and so many places in between.  I would be lying if I said that some of what we have learned didn’t frighten me. Our privacy and our rights to it is dwindling at a phenomenal pace and most people don’t pay attention to that fact until it’s too late (myself included).  We need to start reading the small print before we hit the “Install” button. There has to be a happy marriage of technology and our real world lives. We don’t need to be connected to everyone all at once all the time. People say that this will cause them to lose out on something. What? I find the ones that usually say this are the teenagers and college students that feel that their lives aren’t complete and they can’t start their day until the cell phone is on and chirping some useless drivel at them. They don’t really have to worry about that fabulous job offer that is only going to be available to them for thirty seconds.  Is it really that important that Kate is going to wear her Uggs today? They say they have no time to spend with their family, I say stop playing Angry Birds or whatever is the latest time waster. Since we are going to have a technology filled world, we need to make sure that our kids understand from the beginning that there are more important things than the latest version of (insert the latest video game or phone app craze here). Please don’t get me wrong, I am also guilty of wasting time on the Internet and in general. Right now I have two computers on and am using both of them. My phone (a Blackberry) however, is turned off. I use Facebook to keep up with my adult children and my elderly parents now have a web cam and Skype. I built a computer this semester and am already looking forward to the next one. I can’t decide if I want my next phone to be an Android or an iPhone. I am waiting for a real functional tablet to come out so I can add that to my gadget inventory. I love all things tech. But I also love sitting and watching the waves on the beach, the way bread dough feels on my hands, I adore being with my partner listening to him speak about everything and nothing. My guiltiest pleasure and my biggest time waster is a cup of tea and a new book in the silence of a weekend afternoon. Use technology for good, learn about it, learn to make it better, but most importantly, don’t forget the off button.

Published in: CSIT 1110 on May 1, 2011 at10:02 Comments Off

Almost Finished

We are almost at the end. I can’t believe how fast this semester has gone. For the  final project of the semester we are supposed to choose between a Greenfoot project and an Alice project. I decided to go with the Greenfoot because of its similarity to and use of Java. I need all the help I can get in that area. I have read thru most of the tutorial at this point and am getting the idea. I will have a simple program finished by the end of the week.

My other self.

This past weeks dissusions of virtual worlds and video games has been pretty interesting. A few years ago Ben came home and told me about Second Life. We went and had a look and I was pretty impressed at that time.(Early 2007) The problem is, it hasn’t progressed the way I think it should have, considering how many good ideas they had. Why it isn’t being taken advantage of for educational purposes is beyond me. I feel like it would be pretty easy for me to fall into a good virtual world and not want to come back out.

Published in: CSIT 1110 on April 24, 2011 at10:02 Comments Off

Who Wants to Live Forever…

Geniuses have always been subject to derision. There are always those who call the mentally adventurous crazy because their small minds can’t handle anything more than the trash that they feed it. I have stopped talking about what I learn in class at work mostly because I am met with the same attitude I used to get from my ex-husband, “What do you want to learn about that for? That just sounds stupid”. Of course I have to remember that Teen Mom and Jersey Shore are far more important to some of those I work with than just about anything else. Sorry, I am just a little grumpy about work right now. I started this blog talking about Ray Kurzweil and his amazing outlook. By the end of the movie, I was feeling a little sorry for him. I would like to think that the things he dreams of will come to pass in the time frame he projects. And they might. Unfortunately, I don’t think mankind is as selfless as it will need to be that handle the kind of power that will be available in Kurzweil’s future. Will the evolution of computers and humans be used just for good? I hate to sound pessimistic, but no. I don’t know what will have to happen to us as a race, but as I have said before we are too selfish and too young to have the kind of future he predicts. Are self-aware computers coming? Yes. And I am looking forward to it. I just hope that the safeguards are in place to protect us from them and ourselves. Good or bad I want to be a part of what IS coming.

Published in: CSIT 1110 on April 17, 2011 at10:02 Comments Off

It…IS…ALIVE!

Well, not really. The Mindstorm robot that Ethan and I have been playing with is rather aggressive at times though. This week has to be the most fun I’ve had in a class ever. I have been trying to justify to myself the cost of one but unfortunately can’t. Unless it could cook dinner I’m afraid that it just isn’t in the budget. But fun in class all the same.

This weeks discussions about robots has been an interesting one. I really liked the robot car race, particularly because the team that won not only used off the shelf parts and a completely different aproach to how their car navigated, but because they were a small team that didn’t just throw money at a project until it worked.

Published in: CSIT 1110 on April 10, 2011 at10:02 Comments Off

Coughing…Oh sorry, I meant Hacking

Hmmm very interesting. I have done a lot of things in my life just to see if I could. It was probably better that I didn’t know anything about programming when I was younger and less aware of consequences. I’m not real sure just what to blog about hacking. The cheeky nefarious side of me thinks it’s okay as long as no one gets hurt. (physically, emotionally, or financially) I believe that system security benefits from the possibility of someone trying to get information they aren’t supposed to have. I think that we (as the whole of humanity) are on the brink of losing a lot more of our freedoms (those of us that had some to begin with) and that hacking may be soon the only way to trade truthful information. So is hacking bad? Just like everything else, it all comes down to how you use the information you gain. Would I be a white hat, a black hat, or a grey hat? That would depend on who’s side I’m on, won’t it?

Published in: CSIT 1110 on March 27, 2011 at10:02 Comments Off

Loss of a Bright Spark/ Scratch

I had several mixed emotions after watching Randy Pausch. First and foremost I felt like I have wasted so many precious years of my own life on trivial things. If only I could go back… Oh, well I can’t and won’t waste any more of my time wishing for things that just can’t happen. He was an amazing individual with an enormous amount of talent that he shared with the world. I was inspired to learn as much as I can for the rest of my life. I truly believe that his video should be required watching for all incoming freshmen, in both high school and college.

Our Scratch projects are a great deal of fun, I have enjoyed making the program because it is so simple to see exactly what happens when you change something. I know that most of the people in class that I have spoken to are drawing their own characters, but I have decided to use what is available and spend my time on the progam itself. There are so many different things you can do with Scratch I have had a hard time deciding which way to go with my project but I think I finally have it nailed down.

Published in: CSIT 1110 on at10:02 Comments Off

Databases, Privacy and HTML II

There has been an awful lot to think about this week. I kind of feel that our Database lecture was eclipsed by our web pages and the discussions we had regarding Internet privacy and net neutrality. I am very interested in Databases, well actually I’m very interested in all of it but I wish we had talked about DB a little more. What we did do I understood fairly well and am looking forward to more. The Internet privacy issues have bothered me a lot this week. I have had some interesting comments back and forth with some of those I am friends with on Facebook. This was one of the comments I made, “…  Here is the problem I have at this point. There is nothing we can do to get back all of the personal (private) information that Facebook has given(sold) to others. However, I feel that my(our) continued use of Facebook condones their continued and expanding use of our supposedly private information. Now they are going to be giving out any addresses and telephone numbers to third parties. Yes, I signed up for Facebook in the beginning to keep up with those of you I care about, but I can call and email and write! Ahha, I just got it. Facebook giving out our personal information was all a scam by the US Postal Service so that we would write more letters and use their abysmally slow snail mail service!”  I guess if we all thought that Mark Zuckerberg was sitting around one night and thought he would make this great social network so that people could all come together, hold hands and sing Kumbaya, we were mistaken, there was always a capitalistic agenda to fulfill. My question is, “How the hell do we keep what is and has been one of the greatest ways(the Internet) of communicating with our global community up, running and relatively free of corruption and censorship?”

Published in: CSIT 1110 on March 6, 2011 at10:02 Comments Off

Crusin’ da Tubes

This weeks assignment has been a good deal of fun. Having had my own business for years, I had used WYSIWYG software to build sites for various reasons, but it wasn’t until I took Pellissippi’s Web Design series that I really learned anything about HTML. That being said, I learned more from Dr. Brown’s first lab the other night than I did in the first few classes of Web 2001. I think the way he went through it step by step, showing how each addition changed the page really made it very clear. I then went back through my notes from the Web series and was able to understand much more. I like a very clean, no frills, easy to understand site and by hand coding our pages that is what you get. You can make a very attractive page by just adding interesting fonts, removing the borders from tables and using color wisely.

We also hit on Networking this week and I would like to learn more about it. We take the Internet for granted these days and are sometimes lost without it. There are huge amounts of information that simply would not have been available to us 20 years ago that are now just a click away.

Published in: CSIT 1110, Thoughts on February 27, 2011 at10:02 Comments Off

Assembly Language Simulator

This week we played with the ALS and I found it quite fun and more than a bit informative. I was impressed with how simple the workings of it are and how it showed us more about how computers work. I still don’t quite understand the Jump statement, but a couple of more rounds with the simulator will fix that. I found the Steve Jobs commencement speech helpful in my personal life, my companion needed some direction and when I played it for him, he was pretty moved. Our lectures and discussions about software and OS were very interesting, I particularly liked the bit about how when things aren’t understood, they can be perceived as being magical.

Published in: CSIT 1110 on February 13, 2011 at10:02 Comments Off

My New Everything

I have actually started to buy the pieces for this, the motherboard and power supply came just before Christmas and I will buy the other parts as I can. I don’t feel like I have everything listed here but I think I have all the major pieces. I will also post a picture of the case I want to use as soon as I am able to take the picture. I have a new “antique” trunk that is about the right size to fit a micro-ATX cube style case (or at least the guts from one) so I will be camoflaging the new computer in that. So here is the list of major componants.

Motherboard-  AMD Micro ATX BIOSTAR A880G+ AM3 AMD 880G HDMI (This and the power supply came in a package for $62.00 including shipping.)

Power Supply-  LOGISYS PS550ABK 550Watts ATX12V Power Supply With SATA and 20/24 Pin connectors

CPU- I was going with the AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 (Since this is the Black Edition it runs at 125W intstead of 95W)125W Quad-Core Processor HDZ955FBGMBOX  for  ( $138.00 Newegg) However, for an extra $30 I can have this one instead the AMD Phenom II X6 1055T Thuban 2.8GHz 6 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Six-Core Desktop Processor HDT55TFBGRBOX ($169.00 Newegg)

Graphics Card- There is an on-board graphics card (ATI Radeon HD 4250) on the mobo, however, from what I have read, it is better to have one good card than linking two together. So I am going with the XFX HD-567X-ZNF3 Radeon HD 5670 1GB 128-bit DDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card ($94.00 Newegg)

Memory-   G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-8GBRL

DVD/CD/BluRay Drive- LG Black 10X BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM SATA Internal Blu-ray Disc Combo Model UH10LS20 LightScribe Support – OEM ($69.99 Newegg)

Operating System – Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders – OEM   ($179.00 Newegg)

Hard Drive – This has been a tough decision for me. I really wanted a solid state drive (SSD) but the cost is prohibitive. I have been thinking of getting one large enough for the operating system and some major software and then getting a regular hard drive for storage so that is what I’m going to list here. The SSD is an A-DATA S596 Turbo AS596TB-64GM-C 2.5″ 64GB USB 2.0 & SATAII Internal / External Solid State Drive ($92.00 Newegg) and the regular HD is a Western Digital Caviar Green WD6400AARS-FR 640GB 64MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive ($29.99 Newegg)

Total price so far – $780.97 I guess I need to start saving my pennies!

I did a lot of reading before I ever decided to build this computer and I always read the reviews of the products. It does really help to get the input from people who have actually bought the pieces.

This how-to is from e-How.com and is the simplest I have found. You can go to the site http://www.ehow.com/how_4859671_build-computer-steps.html and it goes like this…

  • 1
  • Install the Computer Processing Unit (CPU) into its slot on your motherboard. Match the CPU pins very carefully and gently but firmly push the CPU into place. Take care not to apply any forcible pressure – if it does take some force for the CPU to go in, then it has inserted improperly and can possibly break. Remove it and insert it again.
  • 2

    Install your fan/heat sink on the motherboard. Modern CPUs operate at high speeds and run pretty hot. The fan was developed to cope with this. The importance of a high quality, highly efficient fan cannot be over-emphasized.

  • 3

    Install the Memory (RAM chips) into the RAM slots, which look like long memory card slots on your motherboard. Align the RAM chip with the slot, and then gently push it all the way in place. Hook the clips for the RAM chip to keep it in place.

  • 4

    Once you have installed the CPU, fan and RAM chips on your motherboard, the motherboard is assembled and ready to be installed in your computer case.
    Locate the screw placeholders in your computer case. Align the motherboard with the case’s holes and screw it in place.

  • 5

    Install the power supply. To do this, you will need to slide it into the brackets found near the corner of the case and screw on to hold it in place. Once you have installed the power supply, you have all of these wires. No need to worry. The wires are clearly labeled and the manual that came with the power supply will give detailed instructions on which wire goes where.

  • 6

    Install the hard drive. The hard drive typically has a removable bracket with four rubber grommets on it, which line up with four holes on the hard drive. Screw the hard drive into this bracket, and then put the bracket back into its slot in the case. Make sure you set the jumpers correctly.
    You will then connect the hard disk to the power using one of the connectors coming off of the power supply.

  • 7

    Install the cables. There should be a colored mark across one edge of the cable. Line up this colored line with the IDE connector marked “1.” Insert the other end to the back of the hard drive and you’re ready to go.

  • 8

    Install the CD-ROM drive. This step is very similar to installing the hard drive. First set the jumpers. Screw the drive into the case and connect the IDE cables the same way you connected the hard drive above.
    This step is the same whether you are installing a CD-ROM, a DVD-ROM or even a DVD-R/RW drive

  • 9

    Install the video card. To install a video card, sound card, or other expansion card, simply find the corresponding connector on the motherboard and gently plug it in.

  • 10

    Powering up the Computer – this is the moment of truth! Now that you have completed the construction of your dream machine, you can now boot it up to test and see if it works. When you turn on the computer, you should check for these components to see if the system is working properly. You hear the fans start spinning, the hard disk turning, and various lights lighting up on the case. The monitor flickers on to indicate that the motherboard is alive

    Now that you have successfully built your computer you can now turn to the task of installing the operating system.

  • Published in: CSIT 1110 on February 8, 2011 at10:02 Comments Off
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