Tag: computer

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I was thinking about our recurring debates on the subject of the Orange Overlord, and I noticed that they often seem to repeat, treading the same ground.  Now, with the level of AI we can program, and text recognition, could we program a Trumpbot and Neverbot who would be indistinguishable from the real thing? We […]

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The Infant Moses Owned an IBM Computer. Now It’s Mine

 

“Computer user” defines the limits of my expertise. I can’t describe them with the fluency of @hankrhody. I can’t build precision electronics like @SkipSul. I can’t program them the way @judgemental or @arahant can. But people like me had an important part to play in the microcomputer revolution: We’re the suckers who paid for it, usually cheerfully. I flipped through a few quarter-century old computer magazines, noticing just how wildly expensive everything was in 1994-’97, for much less performance and far fewer capabilities than today’s computers. Still, to a non-computer specialist like me, the mid-Nineties is a world that’s almost two thirds a modern one. There were slick magazines advertising laptops and desktop machines with color monitors. Accessories like printers and modems plugged right in. The software was by then largely standardized on MS-DOS/Windows 3.1. It was already assumed that you’d want a modem for online use, although it would be for contact via plain old telephone lines with bulletin board systems, not the World Wide Web just quite yet. 1994 or so, in other words, is a primitive but recognizable world to a computer user of today.

Recently I acquired a copy of Byte Magazine from August 1982. This is a lucky find because it’s from a brief, in between period in the history of personal computers. 1982 is most of the way back to the crudely printed newsletters and bulletins of the geeky computer clubs of the Seventies, like the one in northern California that spawned Apple. This issue of Byte runs to 512 pages (!), an amount of advertising that demanded filling in with a whole bunch of dry-as-sawdust technical articles about object-oriented programming, and defining characteristics of sprites on mapped x-y coordinates. That was Byte’s readership.

Quote of the Day: Computers

 

“On two occasions, I have been asked [by members of Parliament], ‘Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?’…I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.”
Charles Babbage, Passages from the Life of a Philosopher (1864), p. 67

Computers. When designed properly, they do precisely what they are told. They do not interpret, they need to be explicitly instructed on what exactly to do. However, when you get them going, they give you incredible capabilities. During WW2, people would have sacrificed armies to obtain the computing power in your cell phone. Even a simple flip phone has more power than all the computers in existence at the time. Charles Babbage could have revolutionized history, had manufacturing been up to the task — William Gibson’s novel The Difference Engine posits just such a future. (It was the beginning of the Steampunk genre)

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The last couple of months have been full of learning experiences and tests. The most recent test has to do with technology, and I am failing. After almost 10 years of using Windows Vista on a wonderful computer, my system crashed; dead as a doornail. So, after my initial meltdown I went on the journey […]

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How to Build a Computer 6: Simple Transistor Circuits

 

The problem with simple transistor circuits is that any circuit with a transistor in it isn’t all that simple. And frankly, I don’t know how much you know about circuits; I’m guessing it ranges from “nothing at all” to “teach your grandmother to suck eggs why don’t you.” At the risk of boring the latter crowd we’re going to give this a slow and superficial treatment. Let’s start with a circuit that’s just about as simple as I can make it. So simple it doesn’t even have a transistor in it!

I’d make this circuit more interesting but I don’t know the symbol for ‘electric chair’.

How to Build a Computer, Part 1 of N: Silicon

 

As the illustrious @JohnWalker no longer treads these halls, I figured there was an opportunity to thrust my metaphorical booties into his clodhoppers. I’ve been kicking the idea of this series around for a long time. Broadly speaking it covers everything you need to know to build a computer. Everything. Today, we’re going to learn how to make silicon wafers.

He’s Gone Silicon

The Computer Instructor and the Former Football Player

 

In the late 1990s I was an adjunct instructor at a community college in East Texas. I taught Introductory Computer and Microsoft Office.

A community college is different than a four-year or upper-level school. It is a combination trade school and high school for super seniors (think grades 13 and 14). Students are a mix of high school graduates continuing (or not continuing) their education while living at home, adults trying to restart their education, and workers adding a skill.

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I have been trying to upload video I took at Titus’s Last Stop meet up last weekend, to YouTube.  I am encountering an error I have never had before.  The video was made with my Panasonic video camera, and I have loads of experience uploading video to my RushBabe49 YouTube site.  I have nearly 40 […]

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Generally when you think of software bugs, you think first of the latest time you used a computer and how stuff didn’t go quite right. Or at least I do, because I notice whenever anything I might be able to break be able to fix later acts the way it isn’t supposed to. But some bugs […]

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It’s interesting that emails get lost at the most coincidentally inconvenient times.  I do believe in coincidences, by the way.  It’s a coincidence that while I was getting out of bed this morning, a butterfly was flapping its wings in the RoC.  But those IRS emails that turned up missing and that just happen to […]

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