Archive for September, 2008

Your Grade

September 29, 2008

This class is a part of the Career and Technology Education program. This means that the skills you learn and demonstrate are skills that you can use to get a job and make a living. What makes this more than just job training are the general principles of problem solving, communication, conduct and documentation.

TODAY you need to get your work organized so that you can demonstrate what work you have done this first six weeks and tell me what grade you think that you deserve. You should have a grade sheet, all the required blog posts, and your solution (including model).

Part of working in a career is being responsible for your work. You are expected to work, complete tasks and project, and keep accurate records of what you do. Justifying the money that you are paid is only part of the equation. Your supervisor will also want to know that you can be trusted to plan, work and complete projects without constant supervision. This is the difference between a job and a career (or profession), where the supervisor tells you exactly what to do, how to do it and then watches to be sure that you do it right and get it done. In a career, you are expected to know how to do certain things, how to figure out solutions to problems and how to work independently. This is what makes the difference between 7 dollars an hour and $40,000 a year.

You need to be completely ready to show me your work and tell me about what you have done. This must be done before the end of class on Tuesday, September 30th. Otherwise I will grade the work I have seen. Is this a chance for you to improve your grade?


Friday Fact Finding

September 25, 2008

Find 20 pictures from your country and post them in your blog with an explanation of what each picture shows. Pictures should be representative of the people, the landscape (terrain), the cities, the commerce, the agriculture. Only post pictures if you know what they are and you can explain which of these things the picture illustrates.

What are the three most challenging problems in your country? Document where you find the information, and get pictures that illustrate these problems.

At the end of the day, you should have at least 26 pictures in your blog for the day.

This is due at the end of class, today, Friday, September 26th.

Insert a Picture of Yourself

September 24, 2008

Make up a person to write a biography about. We don’t want to use yourself, because we don’t want creepy people on the web to know true facts about you!

Create a new blog post, and insert a school picture. Write a biography including where your friend was born, where your friend’s family is from (ancestry), what your friend’s parents do, and what your friend’s plans are for the near future. Include your friends accomplishments – include a link for a news article for each accomplishment.


The picture must be a formal picture, fully clothed, showing the person only from the shoulders up.

The links about accomplishments must be to real news sites.

If you need to learn how to insert pictures into your blog, go here.

If you need to know how to properly insert links, go here. Your links should NEVER be the entire URL, but should be a word or two, even the title of the site.

This is due at the end of class today, September 24th.

Your Grade

September 23, 2008

You need to keep a grade sheet.

You need to list all assignments, quizzes and tests.

The blogs you should have finished are:

Your New Client
Data Is
Computer History
Why You?!?
You Create a Solution – Second Stage
You Create a Solution
Blog Review
What is a Search Engine?
Reading and Future Tech
Your First Blog Post

You should also present your solution model to me and discuss it for a grade.

Next week, I will check your grade sheet for a grade.

Your New Client

September 23, 2008

You will be working for a country to get money from the U.N., get travelers to visit the country, and get community service organizations to help your people.

Choose a country that you can really represent with passion. You want to convince the U.N. that you need money and with that money you can really improve the lives of the people. You want to be able to get thousands of travelers to get to your country. You wan to get service organizations to come and help your people. Several parts of this project will be graded using a rubric. A portion of that rubric will be grading how convincing you are.

Use web resources to choose a country, then come to my desk and sign up for your country.

No one can use the same country (in any class), and you cannot choose a country in North America.

Write a blog post after you choose your country, and introduce us to your country. Tell us about what its resources are, what they grow for agriculture, how many people are there, their average income in U.S. dollars, and their level of education.

Resources: CIA, Wikipedia

This is due at the end of class TODAY, Tuesday, September 23rd.

Data Is

September 22, 2008

This assignment involves careful reading. If you need an alternate assignment, talk to me.

Read the information below, and answer the questions at the end in your blog.

Data Is

Data is, at the most basic level, one’s and zeroes. These ones and zeroes are represented in a physical media by microscopic “switches” which are on (one) or off (zero).
Small groups of these bits are gathered together to form bytes. A byte is a sequence of 8 bits (enough to represent one character of alphanumeric data) processed as a single unit of information (you may have heard the term megabyte which is about one million bytes). For example, the letter “A” is represented by “01000001,” and “B” is 01000010.”
Programs are large groups of bytes, or code, which together form the instructions about how to perform calculations or processing of data. The programs tell the computer how to work to create the product you request. The program takes the instructions you give through the keyboard and other input devices, reads the recipe given in the program’s instructions and gives you a product. An example of this is a calculation in a spreadsheet program. When you type two numbers into two separate cells, and instruct the program to add those two numbers, the program reads a set of complicated instructions and gives you the product: your answer.
Applications are fancy programs. They have a graphical user interface (GUI) which allows you to easily give instructions to the program. An application with which you may be familiar is a word processing application. The word processing application has tools or buttons on the toolbar that perform functions for you. When you click on a button, like the “copy” button, you tell the application to take the text you have selected and hold it at the ready to place somewhere else. The beauty of a GUI is that you only have to click once to instruct the application to take several steps for you.
An operating system is a series of programs and applications that together operate the hardware that is connected together in the computer. This group of programs coordinates the processing of data (calculations) by the CPU that is the primary “calculator” in the computer. The operating system also manages the use of memory that shuffles data through the processor to perform functions. The operating system takes data from the non-volatile memory (memory which does not lose its information when the computer is turned off like the hard drive) or from input from the keyboard and follows the recipe, given in binary code to produce a result. This result is dependent on many factors, but most of all it depends upon the information you put in, the program that processes it and the hardware that performs this process.
Data is usually stored on the hard drive, which is a metal disk (usually made from aluminum) coated with a metallic powder that can be rearranged with magnets. Drawn onto that disk are small rings which divide areas of the disk called tracks. Within those tracks are sectors, small squarish segments. Each segment is like a small book with a cover, a title page, and pages of information. Each sector holds 512 bytes of data (512 bytes multiplied by 8 bits in a byte = 4,096 characters).
Unlike a library, however, each consecutive sector in a track does not hold a part of the program like each book of the encyclopedia holds part of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Rather the parts of one set of data or program are scattered across the disk surface and among the tracks in whatever fashion best fit the computers use of space at the time. Like a telephone book, certain sectors catalog the data, so when the program runs, it brings together parts of its code in the other parts of the computer to determine what to do and get it done. Imagine you and your friends are taking a trip, you first call them on the telephone to assemble them to your house (like the computer consults the directory sectors on the hard drive and pulls the code together). Then when every one arrives, you assign each person a task; John brought his car, Megan brought her tent, and you brought the food. You will each take care of your own role, and the result will be a nice campsite beside the lake – your output.
The data on the hard drive, a series of on and off switches, sends a coded signal through a cable to a component in your computer called the mother board – a name that denotes its role in bringing all of the components together, or connecting them. The coded signal follows paths on the mother board called circuits, and then through the processor, which is like a calculator, to produce your result: a resulting coded signal from the processor tells your monitor what to show you.
Your computer is made up of many elements like metal, plastic, silicon, fiberglass and glass. Some of these elements make up parts like the motherboard. The motherboard is a large printed circuit board, and is usually green in color with gold colored circuits. A printed circuit board is a square sheet of phenolic, a fiberglass like material, with circuits of thin metal carrying electrical impulses. These circuits are metal foil which carry electrical signals between electronic components soldered to the board.
The primary component on the motherboard is the Central Processing Unit (CPU) which does most of the calculations required to run programs. Like a very complicated version of a calculator, the CPU takes the data you input, follows the steps in its programming (like the keys on the calculator that tell it to add or subtract) to give you an answer (the output).
This CPU has processing power which is measured in Hertz (Hz) which is a measurement of electrical cycles. Modern CPU’s are operating at many million Hertz (millions of cycles per second). Some of the first Pentium processors were working at 33 and 66 MegaHertz (MHz) or 33 and 66 million cycles per second. In 2005, most new CPU’s were operating at 2 to 4 GigaHertz (1 GHz is one billion cycles per second).
Though this measurement of processor speed does not necessarily indicate its processing power, it does indicate how fast it can process data. A dual-core CPU combines two independent processors and their respective caches and cache controllers onto a single silicon chip, or integrated circuit.
The speed and method used to run programs is also determined by the other components on the motherboard. The motherboard has smaller processors which direct the flow of information, two of which are the north and south bridge – gatekeepers that direct sets of data into and out of the CPU.
The motherboard also uses some very important, specialized microchips called Random Access Memory (RAM) to shuffle the data in groups. This RAM memory is a key component in determining the ability of your computer to perform advanced functions. RAM is similar to the hard drive in that microscopic switches are used to represent the data while it is being held, but is very different in that RAM must have a continuous electrical signal to keep the switches in place. Once you turn off the computer, all of the switches go dormant and no longer hold any information. The RAM acts like a buffer, holding sets of data until the computer or user choose to process them.
An operating system is a series of programs (digital code which is interpreted as instructions by the computer) which together operate the hardware which is connected together in the computer, and the hardware which is connected to the computer. This group of programs coordinate the processing of data (calculations) by the CPU which is the primary “calculator” in the computer. The operating system also manages the use of memory which shuffles data through the processor to perform functions. The operating system takes data from the non-volatile memory (memory which does not lose its information when the computer is turned off like the hard drive), the volatile memory (RAM), or data input from the keyboard or similar input device. The operating system follows its millions of lines of code (instructions) to determine what data to use, when to use it, and how to process it. After processing the data, the operating system sends information to an output device.
Input devices are any hardware that is connected to the computer, which gives information to the computer. Examples of input devices include mouse, keyboard, scanner and camera, though there are many other input devices.
Output devices are any hardware that is connected to your computer which displays information to the user. Examples of output devices include monitor (screen), printer and speakers, though there are many other output devices.
Networks are systems of connected computers which can send data to each other. Networks can be arranged in many different ways, but the most common are intranets (networks which do not connect to the outside world) and internets or extranets which connect to computers in many different locations. Some networks are simple, in that the computers that are connected directly communicate with each other. Many home networks are like this. Most computer networks are complex. They consist of computers connected in a local area (like within a company building), computers which control the network, and computers outside the local network that exchange information.
The Internet, more properly called the World Wide Web, is a complex network consisting of millions of computers. The World Wide Web, or simply the web, depends on international agreements between both governmental and non-governmental organizations which have agreed to share data and control use of the web on different levels. Some of these agreements control the manner, or format, that is used to exchange data, and some of these agreements control who can use the web, how they can use it, and what requirements they must meet to use the web. These agreements establish things like web site names (domains), web site addresses (IP addresses), and links (locations of web sites listed on other sites). Like our complex system of roads, some rules are visible (like stop signs) and others require the user to have some knowledge (like navigating to a street address).
To simplify, the web is the many computers which share information between each other. In fact, it is a very complex system of computers operating at several different levels. The top levels are computers which keep track of where each computer on the web is located using a system of domain names (like which actually represent numerical addresses. The domain name servers keep track of many of the addresses on the web and where other addresses can be found. When you type a domain name, these domain name servers interpret the letters you type as a numerical address, and in turn direct you to the information at that location (usually a web site). It is important to remember that because there are millions of locations on the web (web sites), and thousands of computers which must keep track of these locations, it can take time for the computers which maintain these directories to update their information and share it with other computers.
On the web, information can be displayed in several different ways. By far the most common is as a “web page” or more properly an “HTML” document. HTML (an abbreviation for Hyper-Text Markup Language) is a system of codes which tells other computers how to show you the information. A properly coded web page will look the same to every viewer, and will allow the viewer to choose links within the web page to find other information.
To read the code in an HTML document, the viewer needs an internet browser. The internet browser is a computer application which reads the code of a web page, determines which text to show the viewer and which text is coded instructions for the computer. Some of the instructions, or code, tell the browser to show certain letters in a certain font (type style), color, size or style, as well as where to show pictures, and how to get to other information through links. Links usually appear as blue and/or underlined text which cue the viewer that there is more information available through that link. Links are displayed as text or pictures, but also represent an address where the information can be found, which is in the code, but not usually displayed to the viewer.
The web is a large body of information. Like a large library, it can be overwhelming until you understand how to find that information. Just like printed material, it is possible to find information that is not reliable. Some web pages are created to mislead people, some web sites are satirical (humorous interpretations of information) and some web sites are simply information that is not true. Supermarket tabloids are a good example of printed information which appears to be true but is not. There are similar sites on the web that appear to be true, but are not. It is up to the viewer to determine if the information on any web site is true or accurate. It is also up to the viewer, and often the owner of the computer that the viewer is using, to determine if all of the information on the web is appropriate. In a family home, it is determined the parents, in a school, it is determined by the administration, and in a company it is determined by the management. The arguments for or against different levels of control of information, or censorship are the same as they are in other venues (like libraries or newspapers). Critics of some information even go so far as to call information “dangerous,” but most reasonable people agree that information itself is not dangerous.
The web can offer information in many different formats. Some of the formats are video, audio, text and pictures. Internet browsers often use additional programs (called plug-ins) to display complex information like video. Complex information is made up of many kilobytes of data, in fact many videos use hundreds of megabytes to convey the information to the viewers computer. Because these millions of bytes of information must each be individually sent through the internet of computers to the viewer, it can take some time to receive all of the information required to start viewing the information. Depending upon the speed of the connection, it could take seconds, hours or even days to convey all of the information (though it is unlikely that both the sending computer and the receiving computer could maintain their connection for more than a few hours). Because there are many computers involved in passing the information from the sender to the receiver, it also takes time to move through those steps and over distances.
Since it is impossible to connect any single computer to every other computer on the web using individual wires, and it is impossible for any one computer to track the location of every computer on the web, the system depends on the exchange of information about these locations between the computers which keep track of some locations. The system then determines the best route for information to be exchanged. Sometimes this determination is made by computers far away. Sometimes this determination is made by computers nearby. Sometimes the determination is made by the computers belonging to the company which provides the connection to the viewer (internet service provider or ISP).
The speed at which any computer sends and receives information is called bandwidth. Initially (in the early 1980’s), the information exchanged between computers was in very small chunks, called packets, a few of which could be sent very fast from one computer, via the connecting computers, to another computer where the viewer requested the information. The bandwidth required to transmit this information was very small. The information could be sent as audible squeaks and beeps using a standard 2-pair telephone line. Modems at either end of the transmission would interpret these sounds as the bits that describe the information. In the 1970’s the common bandwidth was 110 bits per second. By 1995 commonly used bandwidths were transmitting 1.5 megabytes (1.5 million bytes) per second using DSL (digital subscriber line) connections. Current many users access the web using cable modems which can receive from 10 megabytes per second or more. In some areas in 2007, home users are being offered access to optical fiber (data transmitted using light in a glass fiber) which allows for more than 50 megabytes per second. Because the wires and computers which convey this information are expensive, most users have to pay a company to provide them this internet service. Costs for internet service in the United States can range from less than ten dollars per month to about one hundred dollars per month for home users.
Email (electronic mail) is a method of communicating which uses the resources of the web. Messages, which are compressed into data packets, are sent from one specific location to another using an address, similar to the addresses used for websites, except that the information is not sent immediately from the beginning to the end, but is sent to a specific computer (mail server) which stores the information until the recipient asks the server for the information. Because the information is stored on a computer which does not usually belong to the recipient, most users must pay for email service, or find a free service which conveys the messages and pays for the service using advertising revenue. This means that the recipient may also be viewing advertisements on the same screen as the message and even within the message itself.
A common misconception about email is that is sent directly from the sender’s computer to the recipient’s. Since it is necessary for many computers to work together to pass the information along, it is possible that transmission of emails may take hours or even days. It is also possible that other computers on the web will have access to the information within the message. It is very important to understand that email messages are not secure, and information within the message can be read and misused by unauthorized people. This information can also be accessed by governmental authorities for surveillance and criminal prosecution.
The bits that compose data and instructions for the computer are arranged in a machine language that is process-able by the computer. This machine language is too difficult for people to understand, so we have created many languages that represent that code. There are a number of programming languages, and each has many revisions. Some of the language are: FORTRAN created in 1954, COBOL created in 1959, Basic created in 1964, Pascal created in 1970, C created in 1971, Perl created in 1987, Livescript (which later evolved into Javascript) created in 1995, PHP created in 1995 and Java (evolved from Oak) created in 1995. The significance of these and other languages is significant because they represent an evolution in the understanding of programming as well as in the objectives.

  1. What numbers represent the binary system used to store data?
  2. What is a hard drive disk made from?
  3. What does your computer need to read HTML?
  4. What is a program?
  5. What does CPU stand for?
  6. What is RAM?
  7. What is an application?
  8. What is a GUI?
  9. Is the web always reliable?
  10. What is an operating system?
  11. What does an operating system operate?
  12. Are all of the computers on the web connected by wires to every other computer on the web?
  13. What is an input device?
  14. What is another name for the internet?
  15. What do you call the speed at which computers send and receive information?
  16. What are the other two common types of home internet service besides dial-up and optical fiber?
  17. What is the web?
  18. What is email?
  19. Are all email messages secure?
  20. Is the transmission of an email instantaneous?
  21. Can the government see your email?
  22. What is FORTRAN, Perl, Java and Pascal?
  23. How does a computer work? (include the terms: data, application, operating system, GUI and input devices)

The answers to these questions should be posted at the end of class today, Monday, September 22nd.

Computers (History)

September 18, 2008

In addition to telling who/what the terms on the board are, you should answer these questions in your blog.

Name and explain three cultural influences that spurred the development of computers.

What kind of user interface did early computers (before the CRT) use?

Today, most computers use what interface to give the user information?

Due at the end of class Friday, September 19th.


Why You?!?

September 16, 2008

A comet is headed towards earth. In two weeks it will hit and end all life on the earth. The only chance to escape is to become one of the chosen people who get to escape in a spaceship. Only 10,000 people can ride on the ship. You want to be on this ship!!! Each person is selected individually, so you have to speak for yourself and only yourself.

Why should you be on the ship? What perspective do you bring? What skills do you bring? Who do you need to bring with you? How will you help the 10,000? What is your background?

You need to include at least one appropriate picture of you.

The slideshow needs to be at least 8 slides of information, and a title slide.

Remember, the used car salesmen on TV sounds desperate because they are trying TOO hard to SELL their cars which are less valuable than new cars. Don’t over sell it, but tell us about you and why are such a great person!

Use Microsoft Powerpoint to create a slideshow telling the official spaceship selection committee why you should go.

This project is due at the end of class on Friday, September 19th, 2008. You need to attach the slideshow to an email and send it to me.

THIS WILL COUNT AS A TEST GRADE for the second three of the first six weeks.

Next week, we will learn about the features and tools in Powerpoint and Word, after you have tried to use them yourself.

You Create a Solution – Second Stage

September 11, 2008

The implementation (making it happen) is usually the most difficult stage.

You need to answer these questions and write a proposal which includes the description of the problem (the answers to the questions from the first stage) and the answers to these questions. You should create this document in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. You haven’t been taught how to use these yet, so just give it a try.

When you finish with this document, you should draw out your model. You can hand-draw on paper (your own) or use an application on your computer (explore – you might try using Google Sketchup).

Your model, the proposal and the drawing will be the parts you hand in for this project. Your classmates will vote on your proposal and the winners will be exempt from the Six Weeks Exam. If you do a good job, and turn everything in, there’s a chance that you could be exempt, so give it your best try.

  1. How much will each unit of your solution cost?
  2. How many units will be required to solve the problem?
  3. Who will produce the units?
  4. How will you get the units to the places they need to be to do their work?
  5. How will you make sure that the units get where they are going and get installed or implemented properly?
  6. How will you report to the people who give you money? How will you verify that you spent your money wisely?
  7. You should have a simple budget for the entire program from production of your unit to the report – how much will it cost overall?

This is due at the end of class Tuesday, September 16th, including your model.

You Create a Solution

September 10, 2008

This is the first step in a project. You will be creating a technological answer to a problem.

First define the problem. Find some websites/blogs that write about problems the world (or parts of it) face. The issues can be environmental, social, political (war and peace) or just about anything that is a problem for a group of people (or the environment). You might start with some of the blogs we’ve used in previous assignments, or find some new ones.

After you choose a problem that you want to solve, you should select your team. You can team up with up to 3 other people (no group can be more than 4 people). Together you should write about your problem, and create blog entries (they can be identical) which discuss your problem.

You need to answer these questions:

What is the problem?

What is the cause of the problem?

How does it affect people?

Which people does it affect?

How long has this problem been around?

Who created the problem?

What solutions have been offered?

Have other solutions helped or solved the problem other places?

Why do you want to solve this problem?

Two things to consider FIRST:

Next week, you will need to build a model of your solution (if it is large you will have to build a scaled model).

The winning ideas will be exempt from the First Six Weeks exam.

This first step is due at the end of class Friday, September 12th.