Archive for September, 2008

9/29/2008 Have you ever heard about programming?

Have you ever wondered how computers do the amazing things they do? Although fully understanding the complexity of a computer system might be really difficult, understanding the people behind it might help us get a better idea of how some applications are possible. Some of these professionals are called programmers, whose job is to transform ideas such as “hum! wouldn’t it be cool if you could see who is online in Facebook right now and chat with them” into code that the computer can understand and execute.

Unfortunately there is probably no video available in how they made Facebook chat; however here is something different but just to show you the interesting stuff and tools that programmers come up with.

I can’t imagine of how many lines of code, the complexity of the algorithms and logic that this program has, but just to give you and idea just follow this two steps,

1. Right click anywhere in this page

2. Left click on the “view source” or “view page source” option

If it worked all those dozens of lines you see are html (Hyper Text Markup language),  the code used by this web page so that this simple page shows up in your screen. Now imagine making a program that is able to understand your drawings and physics laws as shown in the video, must take a lot of lines and work.

However programming has existed for a very long time thus tools have been created so that new programs don’t have to be written from scratch but instead using other programs and languages that for example allow you to drop and drag items facilitating the work of programmers. Therefore translating ideas into executable task becomes more of a matter of, creativity, logical thinking and appropriate use of programming resources.

Computers are really useful as it is is but they just keep getting better with the creation of new programs which make the creation of incredible tasks seem endless.  It is interesting to enjoy the beauty of technology but it is definetely more interesting to think about what else we will see or help develop in the near future.



Math 120 students, remember to go back to blackboard and take the quiz for extra credit.


September 29, 2008 at 12:06 am Leave a comment

9/25/2008: Robotic Hands of the Future!

The future and robotics have been synonymous for decades, and for good reason! With research and development, robotic prosthetics could be used for things like helping people who lost limbs, aid in the construction of delicate electronics, or even in space to assist in repairs. Most of these hands are controlled using computers. Here are a few of these futuristic robo-hands!

The Sheffield Hand, developed by Sheffield Hallam University.

The Sheffield Hand, developed by Sheffield Hallam University.

The Sheffield Hand, built in 2002, focuses on the development of “artificial muscle” and sophisticated joints. It’s the detailed phalanges that make it one the most flexible hands and arms, through simple cylindrical disks that produce realistic abduction and adduction.

This hand was used by NASA as a prototype for the 50-foot arm aboard the Space Shuttle, Discovery.

The Shadow Robot hand

The Shadow Robot hand

The Shadow Robot hand has sensors on the fingers and hand that can be controlled by a computer, or even via a network. This allows for users to manipulate the hand’s movements from across the globe! This robotic hand is unique because its sensors are so sensitive it can detect and pick up a quarter from off the floor! The possibilities for this type of technology are nearly endless, and with further research, could potentially change the world.

Math 120 Students: Please return to Blackboard to take a short quiz on this article for extra credit! There is a shortcut to Blackboard on the right side of this page in the “Links” box.



Here is a link to Blackboard:

September 25, 2008 at 1:47 am Leave a comment

9/18/08 – Preparing for the Worst

Hurricane Gustave threatened to hit the city of New Orleans

Hurricane Gustave threatened cities along the Gulf of Mexico.

Tropical storm Gustav has come and gone. The storm threatened to hit Louisiana and New Orleans as a category three hurricane, but stalled once it made landfall. Gustav brought back disturbing memories of the past, and the residents of New Orleans prepared for the worst. While levies were braced, sandbags filled, and shelters constructed another type preparation was being made. IT professionals were trying to prevent disaster. Anyone who thinks working with technology means a life sentence, doomed to toil in a musty basement, should consider the work of these individuals as they prepared to save what they could from New Orleans.

When a hurricane is about to hit IT workers have to scramble to save important data and help stranded people. The city was caught unprepared during Hurricane Katrina, so many organizations started training their workers for hurricane force IT emergencies.

We’ve had a lot of training and we meet daily … with our key personnel. This one is still a few days away. You have time to plan, but you don’t know what exactly you’re planning for. Do you revert your phone services, etc., to Houston or to New Orleans? You have to stay kind of light on your feet when you’re planning for a hurricane. We’ve been through this before.

Before a hurricane, action has to be taken to back up servers and link websites through intermediaries based in safer cities. Universities have to maintain websites so students can stay connected, businesses have to back up financial information, and hospitals have to stay in communication with others.

At St. Tammany Parish Hospital in Covington, La., spokeswoman Melissa Hodgson said Katrina’s fury prompted the 237-bed hospital to install a satellite communications system so that telephone and internet connectivity could be better maintained in future emergencies.

The hospital’s data center is in a bunker designed to withstand hurricane-force winds and is located 25 feet above sea level to prevent flooding. In 2005 hospitals had to use ham radios to communicate with rescuers, and patient information was lost. Thanks to IT professionals data and communication in New Orleans can be preserved, saving both money and lives!

Math 120 Students: Please return to Blackboard to take a short quiz on this article for extra credit! There is a shortcut to Blackboard on the right side of this page in the “Links” box.



Here is a link to Blackboard:

September 18, 2008 at 1:16 am Leave a comment

9/22/08 Meet Microsoft: “Jacqueline”

Hi Math 12O Students,

This brief video is about a lady with a really cool tech job. She certainly is not the stereotype computer programmer. She gets to use her computer science skills in a creative way. Remember after you view this short video please return to blackboard and take its corresponding assessment.



Here is a link to Blackboard:

September 7, 2008 at 9:43 pm Leave a comment

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