Archive for the ‘ Software ’ Category

What Did We Learn From Making the Computer?

When we made the Computer we made it much like ourselves. And now we have nearly finished that job – we can look back on ourselves in a new way.

Or some of us can do this. And this constitutes the gap between those in the know – and those not in the know. The vast majority of people, at this time.

This is always the case when cultures go through a big change – when the Western World went through the Middle Ages (that lasted for a thousand years) and moved into the Modern World. This resulted in people so different – we can no longer remember what we were like before.

Let’s start at the beginning – how we made the Computer like ourselves. Without thinking about it – we were very clever about how we did this.

We were clever when we designed the Hardware – with a separate, programmable Memory. But we were extremely clever when we developed the Software – the Brains of the Computer.This development is still going on – at a very rapid pace.

This has resulted in huge problem – we live in the Internet World, that controls us – but we do not control it. This is always a problem when we are possessed by a successful new technology – but this time it is worse than ever.

Each technology makes huge demands on us – and we have always responded by changing ourselves to make us more compatible with it.

But the result of adapting to Television was a disaster – to make ourselves compatible with this, we had to become nothing but consumers – and not able to think for ourselves.

But I see I have messed up this posting completely. I started to write about the Computer, and then I switched to Television – and wound up in a swamp, up to my ass in alligators.

I will have to start once again – describing how the Computer drained the swamp. At least for some of us.

Using UX to Build a Better World

UX is computer shorthand for User Experience. And a lot of work has gone into making it better, for computer users.

This is not because computer companies want to help people – they are only interested in helping themselves. But they are gradually realizing – that they have to help people, to help themselves.

And when I say gradually, I mean very gradually – with lots of setbacks.

I am listening to an excellent course – Introduction to the Foundations of Western Civilization – where this same dynamic occurs over and over. It takes hundreds of years – but eventually people get the message.

One of these messages, that gets repeated over and over, throughout history, is “We must build a better world!” And, quite frankly – we have failed miserably at this.

I am watching a MOOC, on edX, presented by the University of Michigan – Introduction to User Experience. They have developed a methodology for doing this – actually a lot of methods the designer can chose from. I asked myself why these could not be used to make a better world.

The answer is simple – it’s a matter of scope. UX works in the computer world (this is what it was designed for) – but cannot be used outside of it.

This is the tragedy of our times. We can work very well in developing computers – but not in developing a better world.

How to Share Your Videos

Palomo School

The easiest way to deal with videos, is to not make them in the first place. But if you are determined to be different (like me) I can show you how to do this easily. This is what the Computer is for now – to manage large amounts of data.

And you will get large amounts of data, because video files consist of hundred of photos strung end to end.

Most applications want to charge you extra for using videos. But Google is ahead of them in using the Cloud – where storage is cheap. I won’t explain the Cloud to you – just take it from me, that it does this magic stuff for you – for practically nothing. Google calls this service You Tube.

The Palomo School is in Palomo – a little town across the river from Oroso, where I live. And where I often go for a bicycle ride. Its scenic country, with not much traffic.

As I was riding by, I saw a lot of students and parents lined up outside the entrance to the school – evidently waiting for school to open. Parents have to accompany their children to and from school – why I do not know.

So I made a video – but I did not do a good job of it. I should have done a long sweep from left to right, showing more of the school (with its large trash containers) – giving you a better feel for the place.

Making videos is far different from making photos – and I am just learning this out.

This is what you have to do:

  1. Make a video, using a digital camera or a smartphone.
  2. Upload this video to your computer.
  3. Upload it from your computer to You Tube. It will give you an Internet address you can use to access your video (as I did in this posting) and you can also send this address to your friends, so they can see your video also.

Programming Can be Fun

And it can be a high-paying career. I am now learning C# at the Microsoft Virtual Academy, for free. And I am not unusual at all – in fact, at 79 years, I am not too bright.

Why isn’t everyone doing this? There must be hundreds of reasons – but I suspect most of them boil down to something simple – they do not want to be a success!

What Has the Computer Done For Us?

It has opened up a new world, a new way of thinking, and new way of being. That we have, for the most part – ignored and misused.

I speak with some authority here, because I spent 20 years of my life, 1980-2000, in the Computer Industry, in California. And I have the battle scars to prove it.

Only recently, after I moved to Costa Rica, and have settled down with a laptop with a high-speed Internet access – with time to think about things – that the dust has settled enough for me to see at little of what is going on – which most people cannot (or will not) see at all.

I became determined, once again – to figure out how the Computer works – by understanding its programming.

Most people do not want to understand it – but only want to use it – with as little effort, on their part, as possible. They are stupid, and want to stay that way. I have referred to this as our Big Problem – and will not deal with it in this posting.

There are many ways of learning Programming – all them showing how something. written in a software language, can be turned into something the Computer can understand. And the Computer, in response, can produce output that People can understand.

We have gained access to another world – made of Silicon, not flesh and blood. That works in microseconds, not the tens of milliseconds that a nervous system requires.

What does this mean, as a practical matter? It means most people will no longer have jobs!

And the jobs that are left, will require computer skills – high level computer skills, not just the ability to fill out computer forms.

Intelligent Entertainment

Microsoft Channel 9

Download the free version of Microsoft’s Visual Studio – this will take some time, but you can do this download in the background while doing your usual stuff. Then watch the videos – you probably won’t understand too much of what they are saying – I certainly didn’t.

But that doesn’t  matter – you are being given a quick (very quick) introduction to the future. And you can worry about the details later.

The future is coming, you can be sure of that – just make sure you have a part in it.

Download Unraveling HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript – it will hold your hand while you are wandering through this strange new land.

The people here do want to pull you in.

The Internet of Things (IOT)

I learned about this when I installed my Amazon Echo Dot. I never use it, and don’t recommend it. But it showed me one way the IOT can work.

The Internet of Things is the hottest new thing in the Computer World – and some people practically pee in their pants they are so excited about it. Now you can adjust the temperature of your house, remotely – if you have a smart thermostat.

The Echo Dot installs itself on a local network that is connected to the Internet by your computer. It can then send messages anywhere it wants and can receive messages from anywhere it wants. This could make it smarter – but it only makes it able to buy more stuff – from Amazon, of course.

The IOT is creating a huge security problem – with rogue devices able to do anything they please. And nobody is doing anything about this.

I am buying a new digital camera that is WiFi enabled. What on earth does this mean? It might mean that Cannon, who makes it, can see how well it works, as I use it – and even install updates to its software automatically. I would have no objection to this.

But I would like to know it is doing this, and be kept informed as it goes along. Microsoft does this with my Windows computer – every so often it does an update of its software.

People should shut down their computers every night and then restart them in the morning. But they do not do this – and wonder why their computers don’t work very well.

You gotta take care of your Computer, so it can take care of you.