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Essay of the Week

[MobiPocket Installation]

Over the past few years I've written a few essays which you might find interesting. Most of them relate to technical material, and I've tried to keep them as readable as possible. The newest essay is:

Mobile Devices . ... What is the future of computing? The computing industry has gone through five generations. First was the large and bulky mainframe computer, where users connected through terminals to large and centralize data processing units. Next came the minicomputers, which were smaller and less expensive and even could be contained with a room.
Pocket PC/PDA versions: [MS Reader]

If you're interested the other essays are:

Me and the Internet. ... My first essay is on the Internet, as it is possibly one of the most important developments that has occurred in the history of mankind. So why is the Internet so important to me?
Pocket PC/PDA versions: [MS Reader][Pocket Adobe][MobiPocket]
Electronics is boring? . ... In my previous essay touched on electronics, so I thought that my second essay should maybe discuss some of the issues that relate to electronics and education.
Pocket PC/PDA versions: [MS Reader][Pocket Adobe][MobiPocket]
Art of E-mail! ... Electronic mail is my favorite application of the Internet. My favorite question to a new set of students used to be: 'What's the difference between the World Wide Web and the Internet?'
Pocket PC/PDA versions: [MS Reader][Pocket Adobe][MobiPocket]
Jargon and TLAs ... Jargon is one of the biggest drawbacks in the presentation of a technical subject to ordinary people. Why is it that you hardly ever seem someone with a Computing/engineering background being interviewed on the TV about their attitude on current or future trends.
Pocket PC/PDA versions: [MS Reader][Pocket Adobe][MobiPocket]
Marking and things ... Well last week I spent many days and nights marking exam papers and courseworks. In academia there seems to be an increasing amount of work to do, and often lecturers will work many more hours per week than they are meant to.
Pocket PC/PDA versions: [MS Reader][Pocket Adobe][MobiPocket]
Ode to Dr TCP ... So what really makes the Internet work? Why does the WWW work so well? How can we run so many applications over the Internet at the same time? How do we know that our data has been received?
Pocket PC/PDA versions: [MS Reader][Pocket Adobe][MobiPocket]
Three Generations ... I think it's amazing the way that WWW pages have changed over such a short period of time. We can all remember the gray pages of the page (see the window on the right-hand side), with basic text layout, and pages full of hypertext links.
Pocket PC/PDA versions: [MS Reader][Pocket Adobe][MobiPocket]
Teckie ... It’s amazing to think that UNIX has survived over the years, even after it was tipped to takeover the operating system market from DOS in the mid-1980s. So what happened?
Networking King ... TCP and IP have made the interconnection of the world possible, but Ethernet must be given a silver medal for building up the network from the ground up. Without Ethernet we would have never evolved organizational networks and the Internet so quickly.
Worms of the Word... So what’s the big problem with the Internet? Well it’s a totally open system which connects computers around the world. At one time it was relatively easy to secure networks from external attack as the networks did not have any public connection.
Saint or Sinner? ... So, what is it that differentiates one PC system from another? It is difficult to say, but basically it’s all about how well the systems is bolted together, how compatible the parts are with the loaded software, how they organize the peripherals, and so on.
Friend or Foe? ... So what benefit will agents bring, and are they worth the trouble? Well they’re worth it as they allow us to migrate processing away from busy servers towards the client. The allow tend to carry out their tasks quietly and can turn raw data into a form that the server can quickly use.
Computer Graveyard... In these days a computer has a typical useable age of just one or two years, before it is either cascaded onto someone who doesn't quite require the most modern computer, or, as is more typical in modern industry they are retired to the great computer graveyard in the sky, who are well looked after by some of the great, but departed innovators of the computer,
Red flag, green flag... Imagine that you are an army scout who's job it is to sit on a hill and watch for an attacking army. You have been given a red flag and a green flag, from which you could represent two different conditions.
Threads... The logical extension to multitasking programs is to split a program into a number of parts (threads) and run each of these on the multitasking system (multi-threading).
Shortest first... Multitasking operating systems can run many programs at the same time, but these must be organized in some way. This is the task of the process scheduler, which must allow each process some time on the processor.
Booking holidays... An important concept in Computing is the differentiation between a peer-to-peer connection and a client-server connection. With a client-server connection, servers provide services to clients, and must wait for clients to connect to these services.
To distribute, or not... With the advent of networking and the Internet it is now possible to distribute processing over a network. An extreme example of this involves The National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) Centre for Drug Discovery in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Oxford, England
Trains... Flags are simple variables which take on a binary state (0 or a 1), and are used to identify that an event has occurred, or to pass binary information. Semaphores are positive integer values which can take on any range of values, but can also be binary values (for mutual exclusion applications).
Deadly embrace... We've all seen deadlock occurring in real-life, special with automobiles. Figure 1 illustrates a typical case of deadlock. In this case two cars are blocking the junction (at A and D), and do not allow any of the other cars behind them to move.
From 60 upwards... The communications industry has moved from transmitting a single character every second, to transmission many billions of characters every second. The great breakthrough has to communicate faster than someone could type.
History of Comms... Communication has always been important to mankind, and a lack of communication in the past has resulted in terrible wars and tragedies.
Sports match... Most transmission channels have a restricted bandwidth, either because of the limitations of the channel or because the bandwidth is shared between many users.
Sports match (pt2)...
Sports match (pt3)...
Dear Comp. Agent... This is a special edition of the Compression Agent, and presents some of the most asked questions relating to data compression.
Dear Net. Agent...
Dear Ether. Agent...
Dear Jargon Buster!...
Dear Internet Agent...
Dear Internet Agent II...
Is HTML dead?... Anyone who says that HTML is dead, and that no-one really needs to teach it any more, is missing the point. HTML is as dead as C++ is. Why is it that programming languages, such as Java, Visual Basic and C++ are still so dominant, even with all the powerful graphics development tools?
Humans v. Computers... In 1950, Alan Turing declared that one day computers have the same intelligence as humans, and proved it with a special test.
Warehouses and Cookies... Databases store information in an easy-to-access format, and they have an increasing role in virtually every area of computing. Many WWW pages are now generated from a database, where content is added to the database, and the WWW page reads it to generate the WWW page.
Programming... Some programs provide a framework for a user to manipulate data without the user having to produce their own program. Examples of this include word processors, spreadsheet programs. and so on.
Programming II...
Integrating HTML... HTML is the standard language which is used to present WWW pages, and is interpreted by the WWW browser.
Multimedia I... Human history has developed through the storage and distribution of information. Initially this involved writing and distributing material in a printed form such as with books, news-papers, leaflets and posters.
Multimedia II...
Multimedia III...
Multimedia IV...
Hello XP... I've just upgraded from Microsoft Windows Me (Microsoft Yuk!) to Microsoft XP Home, and I am totally impressed. In fact I haven't felt this pleased about an upgrade since Windows 95 transformed itself from the non pre-emptive, non multi-tasking, Windows 3.1.
Designing: Packages v. Paper... I used to teach in engineering, and I observed that computer packages were reducing the amount of actual creative design, as many system were designed using a package. This was unfortunate as design should start with abstraction of ideas, and the best place for abstraction is on paper.
Pencil first, package later...I get asked many times what package I use, and my answer is typically the same: anything I can get my hands on. The key to design is not the package, but the content. Unfortunately (or fortunately) there has never been a computer package that can properly encapsulate design ideas.
My favouriate art... The WWW has created new design techniques, especially in the layout and presentation of information. For the first time designers can properly use color, text, images, and all sorts of content to produce the required effect.
How to avoid plagerism... Plagiarism is increasing, mainly because of the WWW. It is so easy to find a relevant site and download whole pages of material, and then publish it as your own. With a trained eye you can easily spot it.
WAP... WAP is a great technology, which has failed to be adopted for several reasons. The main one is that it has not been promoted properly, and also that it is still relatively difficult to find useful WAP sites.
Delphi and the rest... As an experienced author of several software development books, and also someone who has had a successful career in software development, I would like to recommend Delphi as the language that is the most useful of all.
Towards a reusable WWW... Reuse and component design have extensively been applied to software engineering, but reuse and formal design methods in WWW-based system is still in its infancy. Most WWW developers currently design WWW content for the most efficient delivery and do not focus on these factors.
Wireless networks... Wireless networks use high-frequency radio waves to transmit from node to node. The 11Mbps IEEE 802.11b standard has been designed so that nodes can connect using a peer-to-peer connection (known as an ad-hoc connection) or connect to a wireless hub (known as an infrastructure connection).
Internet of the Future... How will the Internet evolve into the future?


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