Archive for January, 2010

What does the net know?

January 29, 2010

Use the internet to answer these questions. Post the answers in your blog with a link to the answer. This assignment will be graded next week. Be sure to answer all 13 questions.

Be careful to look for the most appropriate answer, don’t just automatically take the first one listed. Be sure that you understand the answer – there might be a quiz!

  1. What is a DVD?
  2. How does a microprocessor work?
  3. What does LCD mean?
  4. How does the internet work?
  5. Is graffiti art?
  6. What is a yellow dog?
  7. What is a blue dog?
  8. How does planting trees help the environment?
  9. What is bamboo?
  10. What is MLA format?
  11. What is Adobe Illustrator?
  12. What’s the difference between a vector and a raster graphic?
  13. Who are you? (Do a “vanity” search on your full name, but only use the info you find on the internet – don’t add anything!)


Example for #13:

From google-ing “Mister Bjerke,” I find these results.

Answer: He must be some sort of teacher because the first six entries are about stuff for some class.


Bonus Question:

What are the top ten “hot topics” on google according to Google Trends?

(Hint: just search for “Google Trends.”)

New Technology

January 27, 2010

Find three articles about the new things Apple is announcing today.

Summarize the articles in your blog. Post the links to each article.

Write a paragraph about how one of the new products might change your life (like the iPhone).

Insert a picture into the post.

Due by the end of class today.

Quiz 1A

January 26, 2010

Take this quiz today.

It is here: S:\shared\students\Bjerke\CApps\Data Is

Due by the end of class today.

Data Is

January 23, 2010

This is a long explanation of how computers work.

Read it through, and then next week we are going to start going over this.

Your final exam in June will be over this material, and there will be several quizzes.

What’s most important is that you understand most of it. You don’t need to memorize it.

You should start a vocab list. List the words that you think are important to know the meaning of, and list the explanation from this text or look it up and be sure you get an accurate definition.

If you are interested in extra credit or alternative assignments, talk to me about illustrating parts of the text.

Here it 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. These languages are significant because they represent an evolution in the understanding of programming as well as in the objectives.

Programming Quiz

January 22, 2010

Yesterday and the day before you worked with the Light-bot programming game.

You learned that:

A main method can be the primary set of instructions that the computer will follow.

A function is a “subset” or brief set of instructions that can be used inside the main method to accomplish short tasks.

Steps or individual instructions are interpreted exactly by the computer. If you mean to tell the robot to go right, but you tell it to go left, it will go left. All it can do is follow the instructions you give, it can’t guess what you really mean.

When you learn more advanced programming, you learn ways to give complicated instructions in fewer steps. What took you all twelve spaces in the first two or three levels is actually plenty of space to fit a lot more information.

Breaking down instructions that require many steps into subsets, like small sets of instructions that you can repeat as many times as you want, makes the over all set of instructions shorter and makes it easier to write the complicated instructions.

Programming doesn’t have to be too hard, you can learn one bit at a time and build on those bits to make something longer and more complicated.

Programming the light bot is almost the same as programming a computer.

The quiz is here:

S:\shared\students\Bjerke\CApps\Programming Quiz

This quiz is for a quiz grade, not just a completion grade.

Your Word Poster

January 21, 2010

I need to check your poster that you made in  Microsoft Word a few days ago.

Please open the poster then “work” with the Light-Bot for the rest of the period.

Light Bot Programming Game

January 20, 2010

Today you are going to try your hand at a very simple kind of programming.

Programming is creating the instructions that tell a computer what to do.

For this lesson, you are going to tell a robot where to go to light up squares on a board. All you have to do is drag and drop the instructions into place.

I will demonstrate the game at the beginning of  class.

At the end of class, I want to see the highest level you have reached.

This is for a completion grade. As long as you play the game, you get a 100.

Give it your best and see how well you can do.

Why don’t we use Internet Explorer?

January 19, 2010

This article tells why:


Keep this in mind when you are using the internet at home also.

Tuesday’s Assignment: New Technology

January 19, 2010

Select one new piece of technology (maybe a new MP3 player, or a new phone) and find three articles about the exact same item.

In your blog, summarize what you find in the three articles, and list the links for all three articles.

This is due by the end of class today, Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Some places to look for gadgets:

PowerPoint About a Classmate

January 12, 2010

If you were not in my class last semester, you should first come to me and get information about my expectations.

You need to first pick a partner.

Then, you need to create a PowerPoint presentation introducing them to the class.

Minimum 20 slides, minimum 15 pictures.

You need to each make a presentation about your partner – 2 people = 2 presentations.

No one needs to reveal any information that makes them uncomfortable, but share as much as you can.

You will need to actually make these presentations to the class to complete this project.

The presentation is due by the end of class on Friday, Jan. 15.

Hey, here’s an idea: try picking a partner you don’t know. You never know what you’ll find out!

Here is the rubric:

no serif (Roman) fonts – 10 points

high contrast letters/background- 10 points

20 or more slides- 10 points

15 or more pictures NOT DISTORTED- 10 points

no more than 25 words on any slide- 10 points

no complete sentences- 10 points

pictures not distorted- 10 points

first title slide has your name, class period and email address- 10 points

all slides use the same template- 10 points

all slides have the same theme/appearance- 10 points

This project is for a grade (determined by the rubric) – it is not completion (pass/Fail). You will receive a grade between 60 and 100.