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Monthly Archives: October 2011

1. How has abstraction made computing more accessible to a wider audience of users? Give two examples of how abstraction makes computing easier for you as a user.

The definition of abstraction by wiki states, In computer science, abstraction is the process by which data and programs are defined with a representation similar to its meaning (semantics), while hiding away the implementation details. Abstraction tries to reduce and factor out details so that the programmer can focus on a few concepts at a time. A system can have several abstraction layers whereby different meanings and amounts of detail are exposed to the programmer. For example, low-level abstraction layers expose details of the hardware where the program is run, while high-level layers deal with the business logic of the program.

In easier terms this could be understood as the process of picking out common features of objects  and procedures. Someone like a programmer, for example, would use abstraction to pick out two functions from similar programs and combine them into one single program. Or another example would be that using abstraction us to view a hardware component like a processor as a single indivisible high-level entity without having to be aware or realize all of the many electronic devices that go into creating and constructing it.

Examples of myself using abstraction could be when I built the desktop that I own. I did research and looked for part of the computer that I needed or wanted, but really didn’t go too far beyond the parts that I needed. By this, I didn’t go i depth about how many transistors or diodes were in each piece, or how the circuit diagrams were laid out in each part. Of course I had to look at which parts worked with others such as which processor would fit into the socket I had in the motherboard I chose to use in the build I was ordering. Another example of this, almost within the previous example, would be when I use my computer, whatever the case it is, I don’t really realize what parts are communicating with each other or how they are communicating, because I am focused on what task I’m using it for. In the case of when I try and tweak a certain piece of hardware. say the processor to overclock or speed it up, this requires you to be a little more knowledgeable and wary of what processes are required for these devices to do their job and what it requires to do said tweaking.

Of course abstraction is used in every day activities, especially ones that require you to create or imagine objects. Maybe even a conversation you are having with someone. For example, lets say you’re having a conversation with someone about a car. When you think about a car, what instantly comes to mind? Maybe a four-door? Maybe a green SUV? Maybe you picture the first car you ever owned? This is abstraction at its finest, and you may or may not realize it, but you use it every day.

 

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Last week were assigned our groups for the final project of the semester. Our group the “Samurai Predators”, consists of Micah Cantrell, Jordan Gilland, and myself. We were originally put together because we were asked to write down something we were interested in doing the project on, and based on that, we were paired together.My choice was something in and around emerging computer hardware, Micahs was based around voice recognition software and I’m pretty sure Jordan is just rolling with whatever we could come up with.

Eventually after about 15-20 minutes of talking to each other, we came up with the idea of current and emerging voice recognition technology. Really anything from smartphones, voice controlled homes, to technology to aid people who are handicapped. Some of the main points we’ll be touching on is current voice activated technology and applications and how most don’t seem to work as well as some would like. This of course has a lot of reason in itself because of programming issues, pronunciation and dialects of the language, and how well the hardware can handle the application its being used for. This then brings us to the point of emerging hardware and software that’s being researched and brought to the market for consumer use.

Hopefully we can show some videos and examples in our slide show and presentation of some of these mentioned issues. We’ll also go over some of the specific new hardware and software of these new and improved applications. Micah also mentioned that his sister is computer science tech working on some projects at IU Bloomington specifically focused on voice activated robotics, too. Hopefully he can get some extra information from her and possibly be able to even get permission to borrow or show one of the current robot/projects they’re working on currently!

Beyond that, we have everything pretty much squared away and ready to roll. Micah said he’s going to be doing some research and focusing on applications related to voice activation technology considering he has access to it with his sister at IU Bloomington. Jordan said he’s going to focus on software related to it; things like current and emerging programs and what they can be used for through voice activation. And myself, I will be focusing on hardware related topics and what problems they might be facing in the ability of functioning and handling either the software and/or applications of it.

And for kicks I’ve added a youtube video I found a bit amusing. It’s of a guy from the UK reviewing a newer lexus model that has a voice activation system used for different tasks in the vehicle and some of the problems he has with using it.

I chose to do my subject on SSD drives or Solid State Drives.

Solid State Drives are These are a fairly new idea, or at least newer to the consumer market in the ability to use them in your personal computer. SSD’s are a new type of hard drive for your computer, or according to Wikipedia are…

A solid-state drive (SSD) or an electronic disk is a data storage device that uses solid-state memory to store persistent data with the intention of providing access in the same manner of a traditional block i/o hard disk drive. SSDs are distinguished from traditional magnetic disks such as hard disk drives (HDDs) or floppy disk, which are electromechanical devices containing spinning disks and movable read/write heads. In contrast, SSDs use microchips which retain data in non-volatile memory chips[1] and contain no moving parts.[1] Compared to electromechanical HDDs, SSDs are typically less susceptible to physical shock, are silent, have lower access time and latency, but are more expensive per gigabyte (GB) and typically support a limited number of writes over the life of the device. SSDs use the same interface as hard disk drives, thus easily replacing them in most applications.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid-state_drive)

Considering SSD’s are such a newer technology to the consumer market, you can assume that, of course, they will be more expensive in comparison to older style HDD’s. Average pricing for SSD’s, or at least quality SSD’s, will range from cheapest (and slowest) SSD’s costing 2.5$ per GB, the fastest consumer HDDs cost less than 20 cents a GB, while standard versions cost < 10cents/GB). This is an insanely high price for most users. Because of this, you can gather that SSD’s are very mainstream quite yet, but are expected to reach or more standard and mainstream price-point in 2012.

For a real and genuine comparison between SSD’s and HDD’s I’ve attached a youtube video below which includes; weight measurements, boot-up times, read speeds, shutdown times and vibration testing.