Thursday, February 25, 2016

Fundamentals of Computing - Lesson 9 - Finally Tying the Knots of Fundamentals

When tying up the knots of fundamentals in computing we have looked at numerous aspects of computing. You now know how the PC works, what the BIOS is, how networks can cooperate in networks, what the operating system is all about, and what the relationship between CPU speed and harddrives speeds mean for your computing performance. You even know a bit about choosing software for your computer, and there is one thing we haven't really touched.

I think it's fair to say that most people who read this introduction to the fundamentals of computing will be people who plan on working with computers as a living. Very probably as programmers. In that connection, you need to know one very important thing about computers to be succesful in doing so.

Scalability - Key to Success
When you design software, you must always think how you can design your system so it can grow as a business grows. This is called scalability. It must be useful for a small company, but just as useful when the business doubles.

In that connection you also need to be able to plan for the type of problems we know will arise. In a customer system, you need to have error handling when a customer has a phone number that is already in your system. You also need to handle order systems where the name is identical - and who knows whether there are two (or even three) persons called Edward Johnson in Nebraska?

Scalability is closely associated with usability. You must consider your end-users when you design your system. You must include common variables in your programming. F1 for Help, Esc for Quit or Exit.

A Bit of History - WordPerfect for DOS, Case in Point
In the old days, you could just as easily work with a single page document in WordPerfect as you could edit a document containing the entire Bible. What was before the active page on your screen was stored in one temporary file, and the content at the other end was stored in another temporary file, and when you saved the full document, you could really hear that the document was being stored before you moved on.

WordPerfect for DOS was not, as such, a user-friendly system. Ctrl+F3 to show code (and also I believe to remember F11), Shift+F7 to print a document, then 1 to print the full document or 2 to print the current page. Such commands were remembered by the user as you moved along with that specific type of word processing.

Computing - A World That Is Ever-Changing
When the product changes, such as moves on to Windows, many of these things were removed, and changed. It annoyed users at the time - and you must know this, so you won't repeat such an error when you design your programs.

The world of computing is moving on constantly. When I mentioned IDE and S-ATA in the lesson on CPUs and harddrives, the IDE format is dying. We have reached new levels of technology, and that is part of this world.

If you want to work in the field of computing and programming you must be willing to change constantly. There will always be things that you thought were to-stay technologies, but they will change. Therefore tying up the knots is closely associated with going through the lessons once again. As you have read all the material once, you will be enlightened as you go over it a second time, and now is the time to remind you of something important: if anything is unclear, I would welcome your comments, because that is the only way I may be reminded if anything was overlooked. Don't be afraid to ask any questions you have. They are more than welcome.

Introducing Advanced Level Lessons In Specific Fields
In the coming days, I am preparing some twenty questions to help you in testing whether you got it all in the right way. Stay tuned as that questionnaire comes online. And then we will be running series on various special fields of interest. These will be single lesson special editions available to all free of charge. Stay tuned for more fun in Fundamentals of Computing.

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