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Author Topic: Relax It's A Computer!  (Read 4495 times)

Offline Peter Perkins

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Relax It's A Computer!
« on: 03/02/2004 03:16:23 »
Records of the computer age will be a blank in the future.

Better now we print them all out on vellum, roll them up and put them in a wooden box. Sure as eggs are eggs, our computers will lose them all eventually.

The reliable, safe computer is a myth. We have tampered with nature and gone too far. If you lose a piece of paper in the filing cabinet, maybe it's fallen out of its folder and is lying in the bottom of the drawer. You can find it. If you lose a document in your computer, forget it.   Imagine that old filing cabinet had a button on the front, one press of it and the whole contents take a one way trip to oblivion. Would that button be accidentally  pressed one day? You can bet your back-up it will. If there were two buttons on the cabinet which had to be pressed in a certain order, would it still happen eventually?   Goodbye.

The computer experts, who are professionals in the arcane art, say any problems are all the fault of dopey users.  A snooker professional would also think we should be able to put together a break of at least fourteen, but we can’t.  The cry of the PC Pro is, ‘A computer can’t make mistakes.’   I wish to advise them  that computers are temperamental, infuriating, unpredictable and as difficult to use as a one-wheeled bike. Maybe the top five per-cent of computer users can cosset their particular machine in such a way as not to upset it and give it a grudge against humanity. Normal people can’t. The fact is that a lot of the time spent using a computer must be devoted to it’s wellbeing. E.g defragmenting the hard drive! If I had to defragment my grill as often I would give up toast.

Hard drive! We needed that. A disc of magnetism of unimagineable capacity, going at incredible speeds with a pick-up arm floating a millionth of a hair’s breadth from the surface. I call that soft, an anvils hard. And this robust piece of indestructablity is the heart of it all. Everything saved is gone if it breaks. Have two perhaps? Trust it all to two butterflies wings? You can worry about both then.

I am a law-abiding citizen until I use the computer. Then I commit more illegal acts than the Mafia. I wish it told me ‘Not a good idea.’  Or ‘Whoops.’ Instead of having the quickest, most one sided trial in history and giving the inevitable sentence like Judge Jeffries. And what’s with this ‘fatal error’?  Nobody’s died yet.

When all the butterflies wings won’t do anything, for reasons known to no-one, a screen just stays, and all mouse wheeling and key jabbing does nothing.  We have to become a shamefaced felon, look over our shoulders, and when the coast is clear, switch it off in a way of which it does not approve.

If it never works again we know it was our fault and it serves us right.

Regards Peter Perkins


 

Offline Tann San

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Re: Relax It's A Computer!
« Reply #1 on: 03/02/2004 14:09:37 »
Hi, that's kind of a negative attitude isn't it?  Some filing cabinets will chew up paperwork that falls in the back and then it's gone anyway.  How did the paper get there in the first place?  Did it jump or did someone not place it correctly into the relevant slot?  There's lots of different designs for cabinets just as with computer hardware.  The aim of the game is to fit more into less.  So a hdd crashes every now and then...what about fire or water to paper?  Both computer based and paper based systems have plus sides and minus sides.
 

Offline Ylide

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Re: Relax It's A Computer!
« Reply #2 on: 03/02/2004 15:59:12 »
I wouldn't knock computers...they may be frustrating at times, but modern computing is what allows our civilization to function at the level it does now.  Don't assume that every computer application requires shoddy PC hardware and MS Windows.  Embedded processors, supercomputers, and the like are quite reliable and make things possible that were not even remotely possible 20 years ago.



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Offline Donnah

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Re: Relax It's A Computer!
« Reply #3 on: 04/02/2004 18:21:09 »
Back in the dark ages when writing was done by hand or on a typewriter, with so many edits and corrections it would take a small forest to churn out a book.  Thanks to computers that is no longer the case.

Save yourself the hassle, do what I do.  I have an online computer for communication and research.  I also have a stand alone computer for documentation with two hard drives, one hard drive is for B/U purposes.  Works great.
 

Offline tweener

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Re: Relax It's A Computer!
« Reply #4 on: 04/02/2004 20:38:28 »
I don't know where you got the idea that computer professionals think computers can't make mistakes.  I'm one.  They can.  They do.  Especially when Microsoft is involved. :)

Actually, I agree that information stored on computer media is not completely safe.  I think you have it wrong that a button press can wipe it out - it takes much more than that.  But in the long term, the real problem is how to read old or obsolete media, or if it is still readable.  Some of the optical media will last many years, but will anyone have a device that can read it 50 or 100 years from now?  Let alone 1000 years or more?  I suppose if the information is considered valuable, someone will build a device to read it.


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Offline nilmot

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Re: Relax It's A Computer!
« Reply #5 on: 05/02/2004 12:53:39 »
I see your point, but I agree with John.

As I'm studying Computing I've found out that computer are not as unpredictable as you think, it's made by man (unlike organisms which are made by far more complex way with assembly of amino acids and different proteins...etc);based on a simple rule and that rule is expanded into a more complex rule with different combinations. It only need to take a bit of understanding of how it actually work (it's actually qutie fun), by understanding it more problems can to solved and less errors will be made.

What every computer researchers are trying to minimalise the errors to achieve is a more reliable and secure environment.

Yes it is very easy to copy or transfer data in digital format and it is very often abused, not many people follow the Data Protection Act or the Computer Misuse Act or Copyright Laws...etc half of the population probably don't even know about it. What about security measures such as password/ID, even if they managed to get pass that you can have encryption/coding. There are codes that are unbreakable.

As for the issue about the magetic storage devices mmm..., there are many ways of security in preventing loss/corruption of data. Back-up, I'm sure companies do more than one back-up, if they are going to keep their business running, as data can easily be lost and they do. By accidently deleting important information there are things like verification or confirmation to allow mistake to be undone. Validation rules is added to the programs for correctness of inputs and processing. If you've ever written a piece of program with fair bit of validation to prevent it from crashing, you'll know how many methods as validation and checks you can make.

Computers do make mistakes, they do the same calculations we do and the algorithms we follow but just a million times faster, the main propose of them is generally to save time. Imagine if you are an employer trying to pay 100,000 employees and you have to look at each records, details about their bank account, check your are paying the right person, the amount of hours they worked, if they've worked overtime, their pay rate, take away the NI and taxes...... it will take you more than a few days.

They are not perfect as not all conditions or requirement can be met; they don't know what's right or wrong, they are just machines that process data!

Tom
 

Offline tweener

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Re: Relax It's A Computer!
« Reply #6 on: 06/02/2004 04:21:07 »
Nilmot,
The only point I disagree with you on is your statement that "There are codes that are unbreakable".  No code is unbreakable.  Some of them would take theoretically hundreds of years of CPU on the most advanced computers, but they are breakable.  It all comes down to trying different things and at some point getting the right key.  It could happen in seconds or hundreds of years.  As computing hardware evolves, cryptography has to evolve to become more complex, so that the time-frame still stays long enough to protect the information.

As to backup and recovery and protection against accidents (or non-accidents):  I was a DBA for several years, and my number one priority was to make sure that I could get the company data back no matter what happened.  Including physical destruction of the building.  I also made sure that I could restore to any point in time that my system had been in existence (I didn't worry about the prior systems - they were someone else's responsibility).  I was/is possible.  I practiced a lot.


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Offline nilmot

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Re: Relax It's A Computer!
« Reply #7 on: 06/02/2004 08:21:32 »
Yeah, I suppose codes are breakable, with the speed of computers these days and yet the performance is still increasing, they can probably run many patterns a day.

We've been teaching about back-up, does your company work on a dual site system like air traffic control, if one goes down the other one can still take over?

Tom
 

Offline Ultima

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Re: Relax It's A Computer!
« Reply #8 on: 06/02/2004 12:15:40 »
Although codes will always be breakable, with quantum cryptography it will be possible to detect if the code has been broken allowing you to use a different method. This is a long way off from being useable, [xx(] why cant we have quantum computers now I want one :D

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Re: Relax It's A Computer!
« Reply #8 on: 06/02/2004 12:15:40 »

 

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