Archive for March, 2009

How to make “I don’t really understand computers” a thing of the past.

I’d be willing to bet that most of you who read this blog do so from your own computer.  If you went to buy it yourself: did you know what all the jargon on the tag or advertisement meant? Regardless of your choice of major, having a fundamental understanding of technology is practical and will help you in the future. Plus, I think it’s pretty cool and you might too!

So, with that said and class registration coming up, I really recommend you check out the class “ITK 160: Foundations of Information Technologies.” Here’s the course description from the current Course Catalog.

“Concepts of computer-based systems; computer hardware,
software, and organizational environments; system cate-
gories, delivery modes; systems development methods;
career opportunities, responsibilities.”

Now, don’t let the course description scare you off! I’ve taken the class and it was pretty awesome. The teacher did a really great job of explaining computers in easy to understand terms. There’s no prerequisite so the class is open to anyone! So, if you are at all interested in learning how computers work, check out ITK 160!

Thanks for reading,

Nick!

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March 29, 2009 at 10:01 pm Leave a comment

03/26/09 Easy Programming

When people hear about programming the first thing that comes to mind (if anything at all) is probably a nerdy looking guy sitting in front of a computer, writing a long document with bunch of commands. It sounds boring and complicated. However the motivation to learn programming comes from realizing that through programming you can create your own customized applications that behave exactly as you want them to.

Computer Programming is the process of writing, testing and maintaining computer commands. Sounds kind of geeky doesn’t it? However some basic knowledge on what that definition means and what you can actually accomplish through programming has encourage many people to work on incredibly useful applications which have made our world so much easier and fun.

You can create applications about whatever you want and people do, I mean just think about all the programs installed in your computer right now, the web browser, the music player, the photo editor. However you can also create much simpler programs that can do cool things for you, such as calculating your GPA, create animation or you even games or more professional applications might be to remind you of appointments.

Whether you like computers or you simply use them because you have to, the world is rapidly continues moving toward incredible technologies therefore being able to understand how to work with computers and also how computers actually get things accomplished might be useful skills to have. Learning introductory computer programming would give you a solid foundation about computers, as you will better understand their logic and behind the scenes functions.

A good introduction into the world of programming could be a Visual Basic class. Visual Basic is one of the easiest languages to learn as it uses a graphical interface, which means that first you create a window (graphic interface) with elements such as buttons, boxes, menus, etc, and then you add simple commands, telling the program what to do with those elements; it uses ordinary words to create understandable commands.

This video shows you how easy it is to create a program with Visual Basic.

Video By: Kevin Darnell

I really enjoyed TEC 151 Introduction to Industrial Computer Systems, It is an introductory Visual Basic class. Check it out! You start by creating basic programs such as the one in the video, and then learn to create more complex applications.

Thanks,

Edison

March 25, 2009 at 11:41 pm Leave a comment

3/23/09: African Americans in Science, Engineering and Technology

Hi Everybody,

This video tells the historical story of African Americans in field of science, engineering and technology. I feel it is important to understand America’s history and examine the opportunities of today. After viewing, don’t forget to take the corresponding Blackboard Assessment for extra credit! Also, please share your thoughts about this on our blog.

Thanks!

Greg

Here is a link to blackboard: https://blackboard.ilstu.edu/webct/entryPageIns.dowebct

March 23, 2009 at 11:41 am Leave a comment

03/15/09 Creativity Meets Technology

How do you make a fortune by simply using your creativity? Ashley Qualls figured it out accidentally  when she was 17 years old. She created a web page called whateverlife.com which became a one million dollar site.

Chuck Salter in the article Girl Power explains the concept of whateverlife.com “She [Ashley] has come along with the right idea at the right time. Eager to customize their MySpace profiles, girls cut and paste the HTML code for Whateverlife layouts featuring hearts, flowers, celebrities, and so on onto their personal page and–presto–a new look. Think of it as MySpace clothes; some kids change their layouts nearly as frequently”. In other words she designs all sorts of colorful images and makes them available for free so people can use them to customize their personal websites.

Ashley’s idea became highly profitable when in 2007 ValueClick Media an online marketing company discovered the page and offered the teenager to incorporate ads from 450 clients and share the revenue. Since then the company continues to grow and Ashley was even offered $1.5 million dollars for her company, amount that she declined.

Ashley was smart and maybe lucky at creating a fresh idea which was very well received by her fellow teenagers. Her success just took tons of creativity and basic internet knowledge. However professionals dedicated to creating web pages such as Ashleys often study careers such as web development or web design — the skill of designing hypertext presentations of content that is delivered to an end-user through the World Wide Web– they learn about the multiple technologies involved in how a page looks and functions. This field is really challenging and it offers an exciting career for those who enjoy both graphic arts and technology.

Thanks,

Edison.

March 15, 2009 at 11:01 pm Leave a comment

3/05/09 Google helps protect free speech!

If you guys couldn’t tell by now, I really like Google. So, with that said, here’s an article about Google for you!

google

Matt Cutts is head of Google’s Webspam team. They are the ones who are responsible for search quality and making sure that spam websites don’t dominate search results. On his blog, Matt posts his opinion on the method Google uses to respond to requests to remove websites from search results. What do you guys think? Is Google in the right by denying requests unless ordered to by a court? Or, should they decide if a person’s claims are legitimate and remove the offending site from search results? Feel free to comment below! Also, you should have a quiz waiting for you. If you do not please email me asap via the contact page so we can get that fixed.

Anyways, here is what Matt had to say:

“Every few weeks or so, someone contacts me and says “Hey Matt, there’s page out on the web about me that I really don’t like. Is there any way to remove it from Google’s index?” People don’t usually say it like that. More likely, they say “There’s this person making crazy claims about me on the web, and the stuff they say is just off-the-wall. Can Google remove this crazy person’s page?” Or “Everybody knows that this crazy person is posting lies and twisting people’s words. Is there anything you can do about it?”

I’ve responded to this so many times that I thought I’d write up a complete response. Now when people ask me some form of this question, I can just point them to this blog post. So here’s the sort of reply that I would normally send back:

“Unfortunately there’s not much I can do. The page you pointed out is not spam, and pretty much the only removals (at least in the U.S., which is what I know about) that we do for legal reasons are if a court orders us. We typically say that if person A doesn’t like a webpage B, only removing page B out of Google’s search results doesn’t do any good because webpage B is still there (e.g. it can be found by going to it directly or through other search engines). In that sense, the presence of that page in Google’s index is just reflecting the fact that the page exists on the wider web.

The best actions for you from our perspective can be one of a couple options. Either contact whoever put up webpage B and convince them to modify or to take the page down. Or if the page is doing something against the law, get a court to agree with you and force webpage B to be removed or changed. We really don’t want to be taking sides in a he-said/she-said dispute, so that’s why we typically say “Get the page fixed, changed, or removed on the web and then Google will update our index with those changes the next time that we crawl that page.” Our policies outside the U.S. might be different; I’m not as familiar with how legal stuff works outside the U.S.”

There you have it. People usually aren’t happy to hear that reply, but I hope they can understand the reasoning behind it. If you were creating your own search engine, I also hope that you’d come to pretty much the same conclusion. The official documentation page on how to remove a page from Google’s search results says essentially the same thing, but I wanted to give a little more context.”

Thanks for reading,

Nick

March 4, 2009 at 11:39 pm Leave a comment

03/02/09 Mathematica

I am sure you know that math has multiple uses in all areas of knowledge you can think of. Math can and it gets really complicated and challenging, many projects in a variety of fields require a way to manage and visualize data, automate calculations, create 2D and 3D graphics, draw plot charts, etc. Mathematica is computational software used to facilitate all of these tasks.

Mathematica was first released in 1988 with the visionary purpose of creating a system that could handle all the aspects of technical computing. It incorporates all mathematical knowledge into a computer system, which basically means that you can do virtually any mathematical calculation with the reliable accuracy and speed offered by computer systems. This is simply a super calculator.

One of the most amazing uses of Mathematica is its visualization capabilities. This video shows how this software is able to create all sorts of graphics. By the many types of graphs displayed it is easy to deduct that a program like this might be used for a wide variety of applications.

plot2Now take a look at the graph of a 3D normal distribution (that I am sure you are very familiar with by now) created with Matemathica and the  line of input used to create it. The input asks Mathematica to create a 3D dimensional plot of the exponential function equation1 using -2 to 2 for the x and y limits.

Thanks, and remember to take the blackboard assessment for this post at: https://blackboard.ilstu.edu/webct/entryPageIns.dowebct

Edison.

March 1, 2009 at 7:17 pm Leave a comment


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