CPU

When you hear computer computer scientists talk about processors you might hear them describe processors as the “brain” of the computer, but that is not the case. Instead, to properly understand what a processor does, you have to think of the entire computer as a brain, and work from there.

processor.png

The processor’s job is to take an instruction from memory, perform that instruction (doing math, writing to memory, ending signals to other computers, etc), and find the next instruction. Processors have to do all of this quickly, and by quickly I mean billions of times per second quickly. Processors can also be split into multiple cores. Each core is capable of performing tasks independently from one another. Think about a factory with workers assembling a product. The processor is the factory, and each core is a worker in that factory fully assembling a product from start to finish. The more workers, or cores, there are the faster the factory can produce products. Cores work together in parallel to take lines of work, called threads, and generate some sort of output. Threads are all put into a queue, and each time a core finishes a thread, it will take a thread from the front of that queue and begin processing that thread. Likewise, if the end of a thread does not fully complete a task that a program needs to finish, then that thread will create a new thread that performs the next task that a program needs to finish and put that thread at the end of the queue.

Do note that there are a two tasks that a brain can accomplish that processors do not accomplish. First, processors are not used for either long or short term memory (OK, that’s a small lie, but the memory that processors have is incredibly tiny and temporary). Second, processors do not determine what tasks they should be doing on their own. They rely on other components to send commands.

Knowing this, I hope you can appreciate the more complicated intricacies on how computers work.

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Reality Bending

If you’re reading this, then you must be one of our new scientists here at the Ideal Propagation Research Center. This classified documentation is for the IPRC’s cutting edge research on Lems. The purpose of this research is to quantify units of reality, and using that research to engineer weapons capable of destroying the reality bender’s that have begun to threaten our society.

But, before we explain the nature of these reality benders, Lems need to be explained. Lems are the average measure of reality a given space has. The higher the Lems are in a space the more real it is, and the fewer the Lems are in a space is the less real it is. This can be hard to understand upon first hearing, so let us explain it with an analogy. Let all of time and space compare to a universe-sized beach. At every point on that beach (the universe), there is sand (Lems). However, some parts of the beach have more sand than others. Likewise, sand can move across the beach if certain events happen that make it move.

This is an extreme oversimplification, and full explanations are given after this Preface, of course. To measure the amount of reality in an area, we use IPRC manufactured Lem Anchors. These devices are like using snow shovels on the beach. They store massive quantities of Lems and spew Lems where ever they need to go, but they need a source of Lems to function. For Lem Anchors to measure the “quantity” of reality within a space, we have used two Lem Anchors to create two arbitrarily high are low areas of Lems to compare to as a base line. The areas of high Lems are determined to have 100 Lems, while the lower areas are determined to have 0 Lems. Every time a Lem anchor makes a measurement, it compares its quantity to the high and low areas, and returns a value that is proportional to those two areas.

While measuring Lems is great, knowing those two benchmark numbers doesn’t put the scale of reality being manipulated. For the laws of physics to functions as they normally do, a value of 0.7 Lems is needed. Most humans maintain a Lem quantity of about 0.3 Lems inside their body, while the very outside of human bodies are kept at a shockingly high 13.4 Lems. In order to create and destroy matter, a Lem count of -30.3 is necessary. This means reality benders with that ability are extremely powerful, and are considered extreme threats to society.

Accessing further information on this document requires an IPRC clearance level of at least 7.

Hey, that’s pretty good

When writing my fiction stories, I always strive for as much conceptual creativity as I can. That being said, stories about people tend to be inherently unoriginal because people tend to write a lot about other people, and it’s not hard to see why. After all, it’s very easy to just write about the day to day experiences that a writer has. Because of this, I have worked to avoid a focus on an anecdotal human element, and I write more about particular settings and organizations of people rather than individuals themselves. I have found this to be quite effective in creating an interesting, although hard to relate to, narrative.

As a product of this, I also for no particular reason that comes to mind, write stories with the narrator telling the reader how stories occur in the past tense. I think the reason why I do this is because of the ability it gives me to skew time. I could have a narrator describe a series of events, and then I would tell the reader “oh by the way that happened in like 2068” in a fairly passive way. Not only does this set the perspective of the narrator’s time, but it also give the reader a totem to grab onto to understand the scale of the story and potentially give them an idea about how far technology has progressed (this works going into the past, too).

The best part to this all is that I’m also writing my stories in prices that are, get this, greater than 500-100 words! Can you believe it? The stories that I think are the most successful are the ones with greater word counts! Its almost as if the more tools to create an artist has, the better their work will be.

Now that I’ve ranted about the technicalities of my writing, I’ll share a few of my story prompts because I think they’re at least mildly interesting.

The prompt I am most proud of so far is a little something I wrote inspired from SCP. I’ve written a story in the exact same way that an SCP story would be written. The particular object I’ve decided to write about is a TV that emits light that forces objects to age extremely quickly. Constant power must be applied to the television to keep it off (because logic) otherwise the TV will quickly age the area around it. The rate at which the light accelerates ageing is unfathomably fast, but the reader is not told this, as they have to figure it out by doing a bit of cross checking on the experiment logs provided in the story.

The other idea I had was about a factory that hunts down raw resources, and uses them to sustain itself and produce scientific information. The entire process is managed automatically by the factory, so it requires no maintenance. The factory works so well, it has developed past the technology every other civilization that has ever existed, but the twist is that humanity has been dead for many millennia after the factory achieved this state.

Micromeaning in Microfiction

Seriously? An expectation to write strong stories in less than 100 words? I’ve been bamboozled by this conundrum. Less than 500 words is formidable because there was at least some room to slap together an exposition that the reader can hold onto and appreciate, but less than 100 means all you can have in a story is a small arrangement of actions between characters that are so flat that they might as well be classified as two-dimensional.

Many 100 word stories try to expand their characters by trying them into symbols. While I can appreciate the effort  being made to expand these characters, 100 words can still leave extreme amounts of variability when it comes to the interpretation of what those symbols are supposed to mean. Yes, a reader can figure out that a spider, bear, or snake is supposed to be the antagonist, but finding the details to derive the conflict with that antagonist becomes an annoyance. Is the antagonist supposed to represent a rapist, war, genocide, a paper cut, or maybe even you accidentally spilling your coffee on yourself right before you leave home to go to work? The expansion becomes so broad that any deeper meaning the author attempted to weave into their words becomes lost in a sea of vagueness.

It’s not that I hate the idea of short stories, but rather I hate the tools that get taken away with over the top constraints. In a similar sense: it would be cool if I could grow an entire cornfield with just one seed, but that idea does not work in practice. I can’t say I understand why my classmates are so enthralled with this idea,  but if its their cup of tea I guess they can appreciate it. I will be writing my fiction in as many words as it takes to make the writing compelling. Fiction creates an open canvas that no other type of writing can quite compare to, and that open canvas creates infinite possibility for any writer to communicate the world they want to represent. However, keeping stories too short is like cutting a 1 inch square section out of that canvas and trying to use only that fraction of the canvas to create a world. Sure, you can use any part of the canvas you want, but the final product will always be of lesser quality than if you decided to go ahead and utilize the whole canvas.

The Heist

Here is a small narrative piece I wrote for English class:

Tonight, we’re hitting up a warehouse in St. Louis. The warehouse is owned by an organization that calls themselves “private security,” but is really just a bunch of thugs and mercenaries. That being said, this organization has outposts all over the world, so there’s no telling what kind of juicy illegal loot is going to be on the inside.

The first place we need to hit them is their server room, as this will be where one of the guards is watching the cameras. In addition to blinding their primary security system, it will also allow us to steal the servers themselves. Who knows what could be on the servers? Military blueprints, secret state budgets, and even access codes to the vaults deeper inside the warehouse are all possibilities.

Once they’re blind, we need to sneak around the warehouse and search containers. We need to avoid being seen by guards, as every one of them has a pager to set off the alarm. Killing the guards is also undesirable. The more guards we have to kill, the more suspicious their radio operators will be from the silence.

Any look we find can be taken to the back of the warehouse by the river. The warehouse’s lookouts have a blind spot back there. We can set up a zip-line there to carry items across the river without being noticed.

Our contractor wants us to do this silently, and if we do set off the alarm, then we won’t have the firepower to hold off the SWAT team for any mount of time. If the alarm goes off, we are screwed.

Flash Fiction

None of the flash fiction we read in English class earlier appealed to me, and I do not think it is because of the content of the prompts or stories themselves. I think the less than 300 words limit on these stories is difficult for any writer to work with. With a limit like that there is no time to set up exposition, and writes just have to cut to the chase to a rising action. This lack of exposition makes it difficult to create an engaging story, as all of the meaning has to be implied, there are not enough words to state it explicitly.

One You Tuber that expresses my vice on word counts from the opposite perceptive. Be warned, the martial here is a bit adult, but I think the point that he makes is worth sharing. (Relevant part of the video ends at 1:44).

While he is arguing that word minimums make for bad writing, I would like to take the time to show that word maximums have an equal and opposite effect. If a maximum word limit is too low in a subject like narrative fiction, then you can’t create a world that  a reader can become invested in, and you also can not sustain the reader’s curiosity to learn more and more about the fictional world you worked so hard to create.

Of course, that’s not to say it is completely impossible to write immersive works of fiction with low word counts. The SCP Foundation is a web series that provides great examples of this. Each article is short (500-1000 words), but manages to tell a small part of a larger story. Because the story is spread out across all the different articles and the articles do not have any particular order, the story can be reproached and read my anyone from any starting point. The entire point to this is to still put the narrative into small chunks and still drive the reader’s curiosity to know more.

Poetry

In English class, we have been writing poetry for the last few weeks. Here are some of my poems.

Memetic Hazard

Is there a hazard in learning?
Can an image or an idea corrupt you?
Hurt you?

Can inception weaponize?
Enter an incorrect credential and die?
Seems a cruel weapon.

Short of torture.

 

 

Phaneron

Do souls exist?
It’s impossible for me to know
if you are conscious.
Likewise, you can’t tell if I am.
Minds can’t meld to be sure the other
Exists.

How many machines does it take
until suddenly out pops a sentence?

How many nerves does it take
to feel?

Do humans even feel?
Or do we just claim we do?

Application of Knowledge

Over the last two weeks, I have committed myself to making a little something for a more common good. With the skills that I have, I have written an application for exam proctors of the Unites States Emergency Medical Service. This applications saves student information, allows test proctors to check off skills in a controlled environment, and send that information to the teacher responsible for awarding certification to the students that pass the exams. The application can track what objectives each student did well on, detect actions that the student performed out of order, and even check for conditions that would warrant failure for a student. Grading accuracy is important for the application, as it separates the transponders who are competent enough to hold another person’s life in their hands from the individuals that should not do so.

While I have not finished the project to the fullest degree, it is very close to completion. All it needs is a few finishing touches before I can upload it to the Google Play store. What is so ingenious about the app is that students wont be able to spoof scores and send it to their teachers. If a students has the app on their phone then all they can do is produce text files to send to their own email.

I decided to finish the bulk of this project over spring break because it would be a major stress relief to have that done now rather than needing to finish the project in May. It is of utmost importance to me that I have it done by May because it is my capstone project in order for me to earn my associates degree in Information Technology. What is even better about this achievement is the meager time investment it took out of my actual break. Instead of working on the application constantly over the course of a few days, I was able to comfortably do it in chunks throughout the break. This meant that I was able to manage my time so that the project did not interfere with my social life by any major stretch.

In the segments of downtime between my work sessions I spent time participating in LAN (Local Area Network) parties with my friends. At these parties, we would all set our computers up in the same room, and we would connect them together so that the computers were all on the same LAN. This very short distance and high throughput connection gave us the ability to play out video games with amazing response times. At the same time, it was able to give us an advantage over other players because we could talk to each other directly.

These parties were a great bonus to the stress relief of having my application done. Knowing that I can manage time for a big project while maintaining a satisfying social life reflects what my experience in college is probably going to be like. Just like this spring break, college will be a time where I maintain my academics while still finding the moments to sit back and have a bit of fun.

Hello World!

Programmer

In eighth grade, I started to read a book that changed my life forever. Hello World! Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners put me on a path for me to learn object oriented programming. I was on a FIRST Lego League robotics team at the time, and I was completely unaware of the rabbit hole that I had just stumbled into. Computer programming has not just taught me how how to make computers run; it has taught me how to think. Programming is all about manipulating information in ways that makes that information easier for human being to comprehend. Because of the multitude of good and bad methods that can accomplish this task, there is a dire need for a programmer to have creativity and critical thinking. Creativity allows a programmer to find new ways of manipulating in hopes of finding the most effective and secure methods. The benefit of this kind of metal exercise has even sparked discussions of turning computer programming into a core subject. While I do not agree that every child in the United States should be forced to learn programming all the way from kindergarten to high school, I do believe everyone should take at least one computer programming course at some point in their education, and that is coming from someone who works with it every day.

Career Technical Education

Attending Central Nine Career Center has given me a phenomenal opportunity to advance my education for my future plans of becoming a computer programmer. This opportunity comes in the form of an Associates Degree in Information Technology from Vincennes University right out of high school. The IT program that they have allows me to earn this degree while I am still in high school through dual credit courses. So far, it has been an amazing experience because it allows me to learn about subject matter I am profound in and allows me to save money for my Bachelor’s in Software Engineering because of all of the credits I will have from earning the Associates Degree through this program. However, the benefits of this curriculum go a bit past saving some money and earning my degree early on. It gave me an experience with Carrier Technical Education that most people in the United States do not have a chance to have. I was able to learn and apply real world skills that are currently in high demand from employers, and that is enough to justify my recommendation for Carrier Technical Education.

Video Games

My parents and siblings have been bombarding me with the world of video games since I was born. When I was very young, although I am not sure how young, the first device I had to play with was a Game Boy Color with Pokémon: Leaf Green that my dad gave me. Initially, my only real problem with this was that I was still illiterate at the time. Understanding controls and performing actions were simple to start learning but progressing the game’s underlying or understanding overarching objectives was basically impossible. One I entered elementary school and actually learned how to comprehend written English. This gave me the tools I needed as a player to start achieving higher levels of engagement in my games. As I aged, I found myself hitting skill caps in all of the hand held and console games that I owned. Becoming more skilled in those games took so much practice that the games stopped being fun and worthwhile to play. This is when I started to turn to gaming on PCs. PC gaming had a very unique controller by comparison to console gaming: the mouse and keyboard. Unlike joysticks on a conventional controller mice gave me the ability to more accurately look in the direction that I wanted to look in. I wound not have to wait for the game to slowly pan around, but instead I could instantly look to where I wanted by moving my mouse at different speeds. The addition of a keyboard also improve the quality of my controls. Keyboards have significantly more buttons in a smaller amount of space by comparison to controllers; this gives me more actions that I am able to preform, and the closeness of the buttons means I can execute those actions in a smaller amount of time. When combined, a mouse and keyboard provide an expansive world of possibilities for skill improvement and a general ability to enjoy the games.

Learning to program has only cased my appreciation of video games to flourish. I  have made my own video game projects to test my skills, and I can say with great certainty that it not an easy process. The level of engineering and planning it takes to make even the simplest of games is tedious and time consuming. Turning a video game into a final product is not a process of toy making, it is a process of engineering and computational wonder that brings these games to life

Prepositions

Do not ever end a sentence in a preposition. Please.

The Heart of Engineering

designIf school has taught me anything, it is that the only true failure that anyone can experience is failure to learn from their own past mistakes. Nobody has ever mastered an art or a skill without stumbling as a beginner, and to gain the most experience out of an opportunity they must first know the ways it can go wrong. Once a mistake is learned, it will never be made again if it was learned properly. This is how to world of engineering works. Engineers work hard on designing a product, prototyping it, and criticizing their own work until they eventually solve the problem at hand. The best part about this process is that once an engineer finishes a product, he can not only reuse that product in future solutions but use the information from the mistakes he learned from as well.

However, there is a dark consequence for people who do not recognize and lean from their mistakes: utter failure. Making a mistake and not learning from it had three losses: the aftermath of the mistake, losing something that can be learned from, and even more mistakes of the same nature. Someone ends up in a loop of the same mistake over and over again is in a horrible position where the losses just keep adding up. Even Einstein refereed to this loop by saying insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Programming is no exception to this moral of failure, as it is a variety of engineering. The syntax of computer programs is far more sensitive than that of any written language. Capitalizing a letter in the wrong spot or using one incorrect piece of punctuation can completely change or just simply ruin the way a program works. Testing code over and over again requires learning from failed attempts because no computer program ever works properly on the first attempt. Frantically compiling code and making little changes each time is the bulk work of a project.

The Scientific Method

I believe that the scientific method is the greatest invention of all time. Every discovery that humanity has ever unveiled in some shape or form involved the scientific method. Through observation, experimentation, analysis, and a few more important steps in between, humanity has come up with many consistent explanations for how the natural world functions and methods of predicting future events. This difference between asking how and why events occur is actually what makes the distinction between scientific law and scientific theory.

Scientific law are results from extensive experimentation that set up a way of predicting how events will occur under any given conditions, usually in the form of an equation. For example, gravity is considered scientific law because we can predict how the force will affect the world(F=mg and F=G(M1+M2)/r^2).

Scientific theory are results from extensive experimentation that explain why events happen the way they do. Evolution by natural selection is an amazing example of a theory because it explains shifts in allele quantities within a population by flagging the cause to be that alleles that case negative effects in an organism force it to reproduce less, and alleles that are reproduced less progressively get more and more rare because they cannot sustain their own existence. Many people in society misuse the word “theory” as if it holds less merit than a law, but in actuality theories hold just as much merit for “being real” as laws do. When people say that they have a theory about something and they have not tested it yet it actually is not a theory; it is a hypothesis. It makes me sad when someone redefines a word to fill a position where another perfectly good word already exists.

Artist

The work I do as a programmer tends to be more of an art more than anything else. While computer programs can be used to store information, analyze data, or increase productivity, they can also be used for creativity and expressionism. Graphing Mandelbrot sets exemplifies this. They are beautiful structures that no human can reproduce by hand, and adding the color and other strange transformations to it invites more room for creativity.

Art is not just drawing, music, or  sculpting; art is any medium in which a message or emotion can be propagated from one person to another. Programming takes creativity, as there are so many ways to accomplish tasks and tasks that can be accomplished. Making programs that have an impact on someone is not impossible, and anyone who had a hard time believing me on that should give this a try. The point I am making here is that art has grown so much from the times where the only art that was considered worthy of discussion was great masterpieces in literature or phenomenally realistic portraits of societal leaders. Today, what seems to matter in a piece of art is the spectacle it brings to its viewer. The skill behind the art does not matter much so long as it has a significant impact on the viewer. Likewise, if a certain piece of art took an extreme amount of skill to make then it might not be apprenticed as well if the impact it has on the viewer is negligible.

Puzzle Fanatic

I was in either sixth or seventh grade when I solved20161125092941.jpg my very first three by three by three Rubik’s Cube, and the excitement of doing it the first time was overwhelming to me. The puzzle had seemed impossible to me up until that point, but with a bit of determination, memorization, and Google I was able to find a solution. Most people would have stopped right there and would have been happy with their abilities, but deep inside I had a burning passion to do more.

I asked my parents to buy me a five by five by five cube the next Christmas, and sure enough gave one to me. I wanted to conquer this challenge on my own this time, and I was not going to use any Google to aid in my solution. Days passed by, and I had managed to conjure up my own method to solve the cube. I was able to figure out how to do it by using some of the patterns I learned from the first cube, and applying the past skills that I earned to beat a new challenge felt awesome. However, I was not going to stop at that. With a bit of Google searching, I was able to find that there were other puzzles just like my Rubik’s cubes  cubes that were not actually cubes. The one that I wanted to do next was actually a dodecahedron. This puzzle has twelve sides, and a star shaped pattern on each side for the pieces to turn on. While the puzzle looks quite challenging, it is actually a fairly easy puzzle to anyone who has solved a three by three by three, as solving this puzzle uses the exact same movement patterns as the cubes. While solving it does take twenty minutes to actually execute, it is still a neat party trick to be able to do.