CS-102: The First Computers

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Previous Article Found At https://xenfomation.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/cs-101-defining-computer-science/


Long, Long, Long Ago…

… the Earth just orbited around the Sun as planets tend to do.  In fact, the Earth, Sun, and the general galaxy were not even called by the names with which we refer to them today.  Earth pretty much did its own thing without being noticed.

Yep, not much happened until life appeared on Earth…

Aliens

Well, that guy has the burden of proof (despite being a resident alien to Earth), but the point is once there was life, there became the need for computing.  Amid the cradle of what would become our civilization – or modern man – grew the very first computers.  Now, to be fair there were early humans and the concept of modern computer science may or may not have crossed their minds as time was need to develop language, number systems, and much more.

Seriously.

So, let’s take a step back (and forward) in time to explore The Human as The First Computer…

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Primitive Instinct & Beyond

While it may be ironic, the very species that would eventually conceive of a device to handle computational needs would be none other than our own prehistoric brains.  Stuffed neatly within our skulls for protection, the human brain is a perfect example of a computer: constantly analyzing information, receiving input, producing output, and performing incessant calculations as to navigate their environment.

Much like computers, there was an order of operation to things and, at a low level, we had to cover the basics first: sleep, wake up, make fire, hunt food, find water, eat, and reproduce.  Our more primitive selves executed self preservation and any thing outside of that was, more or less, an additional program to be executed.  We ran in a loop until the human computer’s time to run was, well… terminated.

PaleoHunting

Image from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/337418197052545512/

To put the past under a modern perspective, imagine our distant ancestors roaming around without shared language, any numerical systems, pattern recognition, and so forth.  Just think about it.  Long before our A-B-C’s and 1-2-3’s, quantity was probably a feeling, such as as hunger.  “Full or empty?”  Distance and time were no doubt very abstract concepts, if at all, until the days of the sun dial and a need to have some means to understanding movement from point A to point B.

It would be a long time before systems of whole numbers (for counting) as well as fractions would be invented.  Languages, while specific to regions, came along and our human ancestors became much more powerful human computers.

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Mesopotamia.  Egypt.  Greece.  They all had both language, number systems, and the ability to interact as a civilization.  I suppose the comparison is to a modern operating system: built upon standardized compiled languages, able to process numbers, and interact with third-party systems.


Quickly Summarizing

From the past to present of our human history, we were the original computers: not limited, but perfect for computing the environments around us.  The key difference is that while we invented computers, computers have yet to invent for themselves.

Time will show how a tool (us and or computers) continue to process information as to produce usable output.


– JK Benedict | @xenfomation

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Apologies (Without Being Sorry)!

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** Updated 01-AUG-2017 **


A Quick One (While I’ve Been Away)

Yes, for those of you that know me best or are consumers of fine music, I was just playing off The Who’s song title for A Quick One (While He’s Away).  If any of this escapes you – The Who, the song reference, or anything before our modern era, then let me proclaim:

My MUSICAL GODS!?!?!  How badly I feel for you!  I have not the time to do so – “I Can’t Explain – as War & Peace would subsequently look like a mere sticky note in comparison to the book I could compose on The World’s Loudest Band!  Though, fear not!  I offer the following links for you to suss them out at your leisure…

  1. The Who’s Official Website @ www.thewho.com
  2. YouTube’s “The Who” MIX
  3. Wikipedia’s (sigh) Entry – original members, etc.

For those of you familiar with these loud lads, my favourite songs are as follows:

  1. Love Ain’t For Keeping: With the death of Keith Moon, we all were sorta cheated out of another album by the original four members.  I always found the EP mix of this song to be odd as it simply cuts into a live version with Pete on vocals.  So, I yanked Pete out (sorry, man!) in audio arrangements to ensure Roger’s vocals held the song through to the end of its elegant, honest, beautiful life.
  2. Miss (Sally) Simpson: A studio take of this gorgeous tune that was later released with other Tommy-era recordings/demos.
  3. Bargain: This song is more of a confession than I ever gave when I was a practicing Catholic.
  4. Water: The best version… off Odds and Sods.
  5. Trying To Get Through: A studio demo during recordings for Tommy.  Never finished, so this is my own extended mix)…
  6. I Can’t Explain: The first “Who Song” I ever heard.  My father played it for me endlessly.
  7. Leaving Here: This song – to put it simply – is chalked full of energy.  Recorded several times, this song really shows of the groups dynamic: emphasis on Keith Moon on the back beat.  The best versions can be found from the BBC archives as well as what was stamped onto Odds and Sods.
  8. I’m The Face: Recorded 1963/1964, this song is just so “MOD” — I love it.
  9. Ooh Poo Pah Doo: A cover of Jesse Hill’s original song (of the same name), The Who performed this classic blues staple whilst under the moniker “The High Numbers”.  An example of this can be both seen/heard during Kit Lambert’s incomplete documentary about “Mods”.
  10. The Seeker – As Pete said, “the single should have gone fucking number one!”

WhoTattoo

My right forearm’s pride…

Back On Point

Indeed – I have been away for quite some time.  At the date of this update, August 1, 2017, I am using time I previously wasn’t afforded to update, expand, revise, and complete thoughts once intended to be an “out-reach” to things “computers, open source, and the likes.”

As such, pardon my lack of posting, social contact, and (in general) seeing the light of day.  I have been so busy splitting my time between my house and my father’s house.  It allows me to see my parents, do what I can for my Dad’s business, as well as being in a key location for job hunting purposes.  Things “computer” are just not quite what they seem, kiddos.

I had a strong lead I was excited about, but due to the date of this update, I can say I have walked away from the “computer field” entirely.  So, comment while you can, request what you’d like because after I complete my work, the contents here-in will be frozen.

Thanks,

— JK Benedict | @hashtagsat

CS-101: Defining Computer Science

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Let’s Just Dive In

[ Previous Post Here ]

If I overthink it, I’ll end up asking rhetorical questions.  You know: What is Computer Science?  What is the meaning of life?  How long is infinity?  And so forth.  While I ask to pardon the unorthodox approach, consider the first time the mathematical concept of infinity was explained to you.  As for myself, I marveled at it and spend time pondering on the length of this “infinity” thing.

It wasn’t until I was about twenty (or so) I started wondering how large – how big – infinity is.  A simple example is the space between 1.0 and 2.0: it is… infinite starting at 1.1, 1.2, … 1.11, 1.12 … and on, and on, and on.  It is this type of approach I would like to take with defining Computer Science under the context with which I am writing.  This is due to three major reasons:

  • It makes any definition of Computer Science [here] tangible and understandable
  • It allows us to place limits on the breadth, width, and scope of how we can look at Computer Science under these circumstances
  • Like infinity, the text book definition is small, but over such small words mean nothing in the shadow of its application

If we look to Merriam-Webster, “computer science” is defined as follows:

noun: a branch of science that deals with the theory of computation or the design of computers

As we read the definition, left to right, we get to the core of what Computer Science is: handling theories of computation.  For the sake of this entry, we will just stick to basic math, algebra, and so forth… number crunching with both precision and accuracy.

Moving along, we should take pause as we find a conjunction – “or” – which essentially means that there are now two definitions for Computer Science.  In the convenience of modernity, this is a good thing for the original computer was known by another name: humans.

Our own history has defined both sides of Merriam-Webster‘s definition.  The human computer observed the tides, the stars, the seasons, and much more.  The human computer also derived both tools and methods to make the process of human calculations both as quick as possible and in units others could understand.

On the verge of being philosophical, we created the right-hand side of the definition via non-human tools for calculation.  While we will discuss compute modules in more detail during our next lesson, rest assured that as civilizations have become more sophisticated so have the computers humans became reliant upon.


So… Computer Science for Our Purposes?

To make things completely clear, we are working with the dual defined nature of Computer Science.  Specifically, we are discussing the duality of humans being computers whilst building tools to make computational processing easier: allowing for what was one hard to become easy as so the next set of information to process could be tackled.

Each tool the human computer designed – from Abacus to Zilog processors – are essentially varied versions of what we have the ability to simply call “computers”.  So, the way we will define Computer Science (with boundaries) is to address computational theories, the problems humans worked to tackle, and how innovation led to the offloading of our human computer’s “mental work” to using a primitive or complex “machined computer” to do the same task.

So, yes – you are a computer.  You aren’t as fast as an Apple ][+ when it comes to mathematical computations, but even its creators are in the same position we are.  However, it is the problems they saw, faced, and overcame that we will be diving into the science of as remember this:

The Apple ][+ was an improvement of the Apple and the Apple was based upon existing technology, means to computational ends, and so forth.


Until Next Week…

Don’t fry your mind.  We will be diving back into the history of us as “human computers” and how thousands of years worth of individual/collective work still remains relevant to Computer Science today.

Until next week, shoot any questions or topics you’d like to see covered!


– JK Benedict | @xenfomation

 

CS-100: Introduction & Overview

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Welcome!

After an unexpected break, I am back in full force!  I have grown two beards (at separate times), rebuilt a 66 Jeep with my father, and have been really contemplating things “computer” as well as “science”.  To be blunt, I am quite tired of seeing too many talented friends and family members fall to the wayside in the name of regicide because the “new technology” is neither “new” nor “technology”.


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“I have invented a clicky board of keys that connects to a computer: preventing end-users from writing on their monitors!  Also, you are all laid off.

Nothing personal, I mean… nothing personal in the confines of the commercial machine, but here is a paddle for you and your personal life!”

Image from https://smartblogger.com/smart-blogger/

 

There are many draft articles I have abandoned as I want to be a positive force.  I want to share what I know and per my own experiences as a young man seeking higher education, I will state it again:

“When blogging is taught as technology [to college students], there is a problem.”

— JK Benedict

(Updated 11-APR-2017 to accurately reflect my own personal quote)

The Real Introduction

Now on my third beard, I wanted to write – at regular intervals – in a “Computer Science 101” style or format.  Of course and again, I am not a teacher, but through using others as a sounding board I have been encouraged to see this through.  If anything, I am always up for a challenge in addition to being unemployed at the moment!

Currently I have no plans as to how often I will inch along.  This is not due to poor planning on my part nor lack of content, I assure you.  While my intent is once per week, it boils down to how many people really take interest in this, my latest endeavor, as well as considering:

  • Questions raised per major (or sub) topic
  • Inquiries to specific areas (or providing examples in existing areas I cover) and addressing those
  • The time required to site topics that are not really modern/common knowledge, etc

Regardless, the selfish part of me will be more than satisfied in documenting things related to computing I have stored up in this odd space we call “a brain”.  You know, items such as 0 to 1, 41 to 5A, 101 to 132, 65 to 90, and maybe even EBCDIC!

GUID-BF42D485-6121-4599-A7F3-CC0B8F392B12-low

Image From http://documentation.microfocus.com/help/index.jsp?topic=%2Fcom.microfocus.silkperformer.doc%2FGUID-981DB7E1-8169-4E94-851A-584AB394DF95.html

Topics Covered and Supplies

The subject of Computer Science – as with most studies within the sciences, arts, etc – can be universally large.  I intended to focus on the more broad topics, but I am quite certain I may have to stray into areas many commonly refer to as “old world”, “first generation”, “theoretical”, and or “obsolete”.

Such classifications tend to annoy me as they make mere mention – barely a footnote – to the underlying historical, functional, and in some cases, sheer impossibilities which had to be overcome to give us what we have today for “modern computer science”.

Back on topic!  Bring an open mind, questions, and especially references (should I forget to site someone, etc)!  I am looking forward to this, so also bring feedback and ideas for as they say: the more, the merrier.


The Course Outline

Thus far I plan to flesh out the following articles within a week of each other.  What happens with them is completely up to you!

101 Computer Science

201 Practical Examples

301 Hardware

401 Software

501 Input and Output

601 Storage

701 Networking

801 Contemporary Concepts

901 Philosophical Concepts

1001 Open For Discussion or /* Comments */


In Conclusion…

This should be quite interesting and the list (above) is really tentative.  I am certain as I proceed and, along with feedback, I will definitely have to jump around as to accommodate the illustrious and the dull.

I am off to (in the words of REM) “Begin The Begin” and work towards the overall goal of driving home a reason, the how, and the relevancy of things “Computer Science” with which we can trace back to the beginning of time for good reasons:

This is a science.  There will come a time in your career where you wonder why something wasn’t covered within the confines of college.  And, you will know why things are as they are, but hopefully the lot of us can bring about actual new technology and new topics to our field.

Until next week, shoot any questions or topics you’d like to see covered!


– JK Benedict | @xenfomation

A Better way to Ubuntu: Budgie

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It our pleasure to announce our next point release of our 16.04 edition. This release builds on the shoulders of the fabulous Ubuntu 16.04.2. budgie-remix 16.04.2 comes equipped with the HWE Kernel and X Graphics. Appindicators are now the default. It also comes equipped with the latest budgie-welcome app to get you started quickly. Lookout […]

via budgie-remix 16.04.2 released — Ubuntu Budgie

Don Martin: National Gorilla Suit Day

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Not from your Marvel Universe…

Nope, not at all.  If you’ve have ever read MAD Magazine, you should hopefully recognize the name of none other than the Don Martin: cartoonist extraordinaire.  On the other hand, if you have no idea about what I am talking about and only recall a sketch comedy show by the same name, I apologize to you for know you have been cheated, left in the dark, and have missed out – completely.  However, thanks to the Internet and Pop Culture, let me see if the following two images may link some vague, distant relationship to a point in time where your Dad (or Mother) had a strange looking stack of “comic books”:

Albert E. Neuman

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Or Fester Bestertester?

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If not, I’ll try to illuminate why January 31st is celebrated as National Gorilla Suit Day, if not expose my inner geek fueled by my Dad with such classics as…

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You have to read…

For the full dose of cartoon and comic genius, you need to grab a copy of “Don Martin Bounces Back”, which pretty much is a non-stop riot of laughs.  Essentially, Fester mocks “National Gorilla Suit Day” – which ingeniously, in 1963 was invented for the comic – and he (Fester) is pretty much beat down by people in gorilla suits, real gorillas, and so forth.

I can’t do it justice here, but the humor printed in 1963 reins on supreme and with love for Don Martin.

So, if you Dad and his friends seem to be on an inside joke — they probably are, but it is a joke that has stood the test of time.  Look out, Fester: I’m coming for you!

gorilla

(Thanks, Dad!)

— JK Benedict | @xenfomation

The Gaming Troll: Manifest Greek Tragedies

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The preface…

Over the last few months my off-line hobbies have circled back to gaming: specifically online, multiplayer, co-op based games with team strategy involved.  Oh, to be young again and face first getting the CRT tan from a game of StarCraft, Age of Empires, and so on.  However, as much as I have fun, my age lends me zero patience to those individuals we once called “poor sports” or “assholes”: the random player that sucked the fun out of the game for their own amusement.  And for seemingly no good reason, no known grudge, and completely self-defeating to their own progress in a multiplayer game where success hinges on everyone.

You know who I speak of.  They do not exist solely in online gaming, but pretty much everywhere across the Internet by a new name: Trolls.

internet-troll

Sure, in Quake III Arena, it was funny to see these newly named “Trolls” rock their skills because they could.  Why not?  Especially in other games where they were already level-capped, you understood they were just bored and had no game objective: they invented their own.  Bully and screw up the lower level game players.

Ha.  Ha.  Oh, wait.  The Internet grew and so did these anonymous, endless time having, low life losers.

I get it, or I used to get it because I mean “good job” — Wikipedia now holds a definition of your kind:

In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

 

Truly, you do none of the above as the words “annoying waste of space” would have been sufficient.  I personally like the psychological break down, albeit it is Wikipedia.  Hehehe – they are trolling you, I suppose!

Your computer was (or maybe still is) your parental figure, means of escape, stepping stone to a wrap sheet, or even a place to vent.  Whatever the means or your ends might be, the intention – especially now – is really nothing more than an endless, self induced cycle of becoming your own Greek Tragedy.  You hurt the team, you hurt yourself.  You take the fun out of a game and it is no longer a game.  It becomes you having to Troll your own inner Troll to out troll other Trolls with the end game being that your trolling keeps you – in reality and in gaming – as a level zero… or a lower form of this:

LOSER


The conclusion?

The irony of this entry has not escaped me.  Once I publish this I will have appeared to have sent invitations to such creeps to troll me, but at the same time, I will have briefly sunk to the lowest form of Internet-connected life forms: Trolls.

Keep in mind that with almost all on-line games, we true gamers can block you, out number you, but more importantly… report you, have your account suspended, or in the best case scenario, get your account banned.

Yeah, so I guess I need to develop a Massive Multiplayer Online Troll Game where your kind can roam the ends of electron hell.  Sadly, the more you play I am betting the less you will realize you have been completely trolled.

 

— JK Benedict | @xenfomation