Thursday 24 May 2012

Technically Challenged, Or Just Lazy ?

It never ceases to amaze me how certain people are quite happy to pass issues with technology over to other people to deal with, almost ready to shut technology out, without try to get to grips with it or at least have a go.

Now, while I understand this for particularly complicated tasks, there comes a point that we all have to try things for ourselves, we may surprise ourselves with the results, and we may even enjoy it!

By way of example, I am regularly surprised at the amount of people that won't change the toner in the colour printer we have at work. It's one of the simplest things to do, and is as easy as loading paper in the tray.  The cartridge is a tube, you twist it and pull the old one out, then slide the new one in and twist the tube to lock it in. Job done.

However, quite a few will not do it, and expect the I.T. Dept to handle it.  Often this requires us to stop doing something complicated (which most of the staff CANNOT do) just to slide a new cartridge in.

It makes me wonder why people really hand over the job. Is it because they really cannot understand how to do it, or is it because they are just lazy?

Sadly, these ones are likely sharing a similar view on other tasks through life, and will often pay for somebody to do a job that they could quite easily manage themselves.

Maybe I should charge for changing the cartridges. Now there's a thought.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Space, The Final Frontier (Or, I Feel The Need, The Need For Speed)

Bit, bytes and nibbles. Not a restaurant review. They are all technical terms used to describe size, and it's worth understanding as they turn up in pretty much all aspects of computing.

A bit is the building block. It is the 0s and 1s that computers work with.

A nibble is 4 bits, but you'll barely ever hear it used outside random blog posts on the web.

A byte is 8 bits. It's how much space is needed for one character. So the letter A takes up one byte of space.

A kilobyte is not 1000 bytes but is actually 1024.

A megabtye is 1024 kilobytes.

A terabyte is 1024 megabytes.

So, pop quiz, your 1TB drive can contain how much data? 1024 x 1024 x 1024. 1,073,741,824 bytes or characters worth. Otherwise known by most people as 'large'. If it helps give you a sense of scale, the Encyclopaedia Britannica comes in at about 224,400,000 characters. So nearly 5 of them.

This whole area also impacts internet connection speeds. Let's say your provider quotes you 8Mb/s. That's 8 megaBITS, not bytes, a second. Going by our equations above, that's actually 1 megaBYTE per second. Some software or websites that report connection speeds report them as megabytes and the blood may drain from your face as it appears you're getting one-eighth of the connection speed you expected.

For many who have been involved in the computer world for some time, they were happy that their 80MB hard drive would never get full. Now TB drives are becoming the standard and my mobile phone has more memory than my first three computers combined.

Now excuse me, I have to go for my afternoon nap.