Computers - Software Hardware : How Much Do You Know About Your Computer

How Much Do You Know About Your Computer?

  • 1 - i know nothing

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 2 -

    Votes: 1 9.1%
  • 3 -

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 4 -

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 5 -

    Votes: 3 27.3%
  • 6 -

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 7 -

    Votes: 2 18.2%
  • 8 -

    Votes: 2 18.2%
  • 9 -

    Votes: 1 9.1%
  • 10 - i know everything

    Votes: 2 18.2%

  • Total voters
    11

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Gorilla

Well-Known Member
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Jan 31, 2009
2,450
1,372
It has been getting more and more difficult to know the software for years. Partly because they are making bloated crap and partly because the documentation is terrible.

I think it's because systems have become more complex (though poor documentation can definitely be an issue). The days of being able to hold the entire stack in one's head is long gone. Systems are definitely well past the point of being able to ship with printed old school style programming/api manuals as well.
 

umbrarchist

Well-Known Member
REGISTERED MEMBER
Jun 13, 2007
554
159
Systems are definitely well past the point of being able to ship with printed old school style programming/api manuals as well.

Who wants printed manuals? The binders that came with the original IBM PC were nice but those machine did not have hard drives much less 100 gigabytes or more. All of the Doc could be put on the drive and the user could burn it to CD or delete it. Printed Doc is too hard to search.

But I have gone to a major book store and just gone down a rack of computer books looking for the term "von neumann machine" and not found a single book with a good explanation. Most don't have the term at all. One book mentioned von Neumann but he was just listed with other people like Turing and Aiken and Babbage. The really weird thing is that a lot of those with diagrams have arrows on both ends of the address bus like it is bidirectional. It is unidirectional. The address signals only go from the CPU out. How so many books get that wrong is beyond me.

Chapter 10 of The Art of Electronics is the best but that book does not use the term "von Neumann machine".

It is funny how these palefaces compartMENTALIZE knowledge and then we are supposed to do the same thing.

There is just a lot of unimportant information to wade through and someone new to the game does not know what is unimportant. That is part of the game, hiding information. I have had White men give me information that I knew was wrong because I had read enough books. I even had an Irishman ask me why I wanted a computer at home. With these HUGE hard drives I think cloud computing is mostly rubbish. They just want us to use computers in a way that maintains their income stream. I wish that ReactOS operating system was running. I would standardize on free Windows XP and ignore all of the post-XP junk. I just want to do things with computers not not relearn opwerating systems to have a COMPUTING EXPERIENCE.

um
 

Gorilla

Well-Known Member
REGISTERED MEMBER
Jan 31, 2009
2,450
1,372
Who wants printed manuals? The binders that came with the original IBM PC were nice but those machine did not have hard drives much less 100 gigabytes or more. All of the Doc could be put on the drive and the user could burn it to CD or delete it. Printed Doc is too hard to search.

But I have gone to a major book store and just gone down a rack of computer books looking for the term "von neumann machine" and not found a single book with a good explanation. Most don't have the term at all. One book mentioned von Neumann but he was just listed with other people like Turing and Aiken and Babbage. The really weird thing is that a lot of those with diagrams have arrows on both ends of the address bus like it is bidirectional. It is unidirectional. The address signals only go from the CPU out. How so many books get that wrong is beyond me.

Chapter 10 of The Art of Electronics is the best but that book does not use the term "von Neumann machine".

It is funny how these palefaces compartMENTALIZE knowledge and then we are supposed to do the same thing.

There is just a lot of unimportant information to wade through and someone new to the game does not know what is unimportant. That is part of the game, hiding information. I have had White men give me information that I knew was wrong because I had read enough books. I even had an Irishman ask me why I wanted a computer at home. With these HUGE hard drives I think cloud computing is mostly rubbish. They just want us to use computers in a way that maintains their income stream. I wish that ReactOS operating system was running. I would standardize on free Windows XP and ignore all of the post-XP junk. I just want to do things with computers not not relearn opwerating systems to have a COMPUTING EXPERIENCE.

um

My point was that we're well past the era were we could print an operating system's user manual and programming api in the same binding. As for looking up things like von neumann machines, the Internet has plenty of information is freely available. Programming languages have similarly become much more large and complex. Unfortunately, there aren't too many books like K&R that are concise and compact (to be fair though C is a somewhat small language).

Most bookstores don't carry specialized material, if they do they don't stock a lot of it simply because it isn't profitable to sell to just one narrowed interest. Having ever known only one store that retail shop that sort of specialized in carrying used computer books, they're just scarce. Why not start your search at a public library? You probably would've found books in both computing and history that provide an overview of both. If you access their digital materials, you could've easily landed on old academic papers themselves.

I'm not sure about why you've added the commentary about compartmentalizing knowledge (which abstractions and mental models don't necessarily encourage) or the personal anecdote about being given incorrect information, why you hate the cloud (the main benefit being highly redundant,highly distributed not storage space, and highly accessible -- with its own drawbacks of course), or why you'd like to "standardize" on an operating system that has the ultimate goal of providing the capabilities of a 10 year old OS that wasn't much to write home about.

In terms of ease of use (computing as a means to an end), there's been loads of progress on most major operating systems available to consumers. People who want to learn more about computing have access to materials previous generations didn't. They can learn computing principles quickly and code interesting projects without much environment related hassle. A person now has easy access to University material as well. One can simply open up Wikipedia, start with the word "computer", and branch out into any place their interest takes them. Even with all this readily accessible stuff, no one will ever know it all. That's the beauty of computing to me.

I think the key is to stop trying to chase the ultimate reference for everything about a subject as a starting point and just to take sensible plunges. Heck, anyone who wants to learn how to program these days only needs a text editor and a web-browser (Javascript).
 

umbrarchist

Well-Known Member
REGISTERED MEMBER
Jun 13, 2007
554
159
As for looking up things like von neumann machines, the Internet has plenty of information is freely available.

I'm not sure about why you've added the commentary about compartmentalizing knowledge (which abstractions and mental models don't necessarily encourage) or the personal anecdote about being given incorrect information, why you hate the cloud (the main benefit being highly redundant,highly distributed not storage space, and highly accessible -- with its own drawbacks of course), or why you'd like to "standardize" on an operating system that has the ultimate goal of providing the capabilities of a 10 year old OS that wasn't much to write home about.

What do the new operating systems do besides look different? So the user interface is somewhat different. Android looks different from Ubuntu. It is still a Linus kernel.

Sure you can look up "von Neumann machine". My point was how would anyone know to look it up?

Google "how computers work" and get 719,000 hits.

How can you explain "von neumann machines" without talking about "address lines".

Google +"von neumann machines" +"address lines" and get 1,200 hits.

A bit different from 719,000. 0.17%

I am just saying there is a lot of junk to wade through when a neophyte doesn't even know what words to research. And then people say, "it's out there it's out there". Sure it is perfect for an old boy network to play control the distribution of knowledge games.

Over 40% of computer users are still using decade-old Windows XP

Microsoft's past operating system woes might have some people living in the past.
While many computer lovers eagerly await the arrival of Windows 8 and Mac OS X Lion, a massive segment of users takes a decidedly slower approach when it comes to embracing new operating systems. According to an uber-detailed infographic by blog Manolution, 40.7% of users still run Windows XP on their computers.

XP, which was released way back in October 2001, has since been succeeded by both the not-so-well-received Windows Vista, as well as Windows 7. In that same time frame, a half-dozen new versions of Apple's Mac OS X have seen the light of day. And yet, Windows XP is holding on strong. By comparison, 36.5% of users are up-to-date with Windows 7, while a measly 7.1% have stuck with Windows Vista.

There is likely a multitude of reasons why so many have stood by XP all these years. Many who adopted Vista early on actually went back to XP after the new operating system's many flaws began coming to light, and it's likely that some have seen fit to skip upgrading to Windows 7 for fear of a similar ordeal. Not to mention that after a decade of familiarity, it can be mighty hard to let go, even when the future is so bright [meaning Windows 8 (or whatever it’s to be called) and related operating systems].
http://forums.clarkhoward.com/p/boa...mber=1627674&page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&part=

I think many of the OS upgrades are cosmetic and much of the basic underlying code is still the same. It just looks completely different to the user and has more cute "features". But they are not really capable of doing anything that the old system could not do with an application written for it. It is just wasting users time and money. But people can be forced to upgrade with denial of support so it is a form of extortion. It would be vary amusing to see what a FREE XP would do to Macro$cam.

um
 

Gorilla

Well-Known Member
REGISTERED MEMBER
Jan 31, 2009
2,450
1,372
What do the new operating systems do besides look different? So the user interface is somewhat different. Android looks different from Ubuntu. It is still a Linus kernel.

Sure you can look up "von Neumann machine". My point was how would anyone know to look it up?

Google "how computers work" and get 719,000 hits.

How can you explain "von neumann machines" without talking about "address lines".

Google +"von neumann machines" +"address lines" and get 1,200 hits.

A bit different from 719,000. 0.17%

I am just saying there is a lot of junk to wade through when a neophyte doesn't even know what words to research. And then people say, "it's out there it's out there". Sure it is perfect for an old boy network to play control the distribution of knowledge games.

So because no one is hand holding during this personal journey of computing it's a conspiracy to keep knowledge hidden? If it's just someone learning on their own, they have the option of diving in at many starting points and can select a multitude of destinations depending on their own needs. I think the bottom line is that a motivated individual can scratch their own itch, and they've got a lot of things I sure wish were around 10 years ago.

I did your search and got back 665,000,000 results. On the first page there was a lecture series made available from Harvard on Academic Earth (http://academicearth.org/courses/introduction-to-computer-science-i). Oh man, and Academic Earth itself offers bread crumbs to other computing related courses.

http://forums.clarkhoward.com/p/boa...mber=1627674&page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&part=

I think many of the OS upgrades are cosmetic and much of the basic underlying code is still the same. It just looks completely different to the user and has more cute "features". But they are not really capable of doing anything that the old system could not do with an application written for it. It is just wasting users time and money. But people can be forced to upgrade with denial of support so it is a form of extortion. It would be vary amusing to see what a FREE XP would do to Macro$cam.

um

I disagree. The larger part of modern operating systems operate without below the average user's level of awareness, and rightly so because a lot of the time that's what we want them to do (wouldn't it suck to take over the work of the scheduler? etc). Whether or not they're largely the same code-base depends on which O/S we're talking about but that's beside the point. I also don't think it necessarily has to be an entirely new code-base to progress either, especially with Android (compare Cupcake to Gingerbread). I think you've touched close on the more important implication that can lead to that kind of suspicion: operating systems are trying to solve the very same problems they've been dealing with for decades.

ReactOS has been at it since 1998 and best of luck to the folks who are hammering away at a thankless job. Personally, I think 10 years is more than enough time to overcome plenty of the entry-barriers to a modern operating system, especially with so many options. However, I'm a firm believer in use what you like / what meets your needs. I just don't think people should expect a closed commercial system to be supported indefinitely.
 

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