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This is a copy of material that I am submitting for an Information Technology class. The assignment for the class is at the bottom.
I've just spent the last 9 hours digesting in depth the site. Overall, I felt like I was studying to retake my A+ Certification http://www.comptia.org/certification/aplus/index.htm), minus printers and networking.
Much of the material was like studying for a history lesson concerning my own life. I find that I am unable to complete the assignment as written, as nothing on the site really enhances my view of how computers work. Around module 4 or so I guessed that this would be the likely result, and so I started taking notes of anything new or anything wrong that I could find.
In module 4c1B it says that S/PDIF connectors stand for Sony/Phillips Digital Interface. I knew that the connectors were for digital audio, but I didn't know the exact specifics of the name.
Section 4c3a was useful in sorting through DVD-RAM and all it's variants.
In section 4c4 I was introduced to HD-ROM, which is a new one on me.
I must agree with the author's opinion in section 5c1b concerning the quality of IBM drives. Both their SCSI and ATA drives are woefully undersung. I've personally seen IBM drives OEM'ed into Compaq and HP servers, and they have done a marvelous job.
I had not heard of the Device Bay mentioned in Module 5c3.
I omitted from my Bio that after the Navy and before becoming an administrator again, I spent 2 years as a Field Engineer for a regional computer maintenance company. One of the many things that we did was warranty support for Toshiba, Compaq, and Acer, among others. I have never heard of the need for a screensaver on a TFT display, as asserted by the author in module 7A6. If accurate, this is real news.
I have not heard of Koan music before (Module 7d5). It's an interesting idea.
Additionally, the section on MP3 compression techniques (7d4) was enlightening. I didn't know that they were using anything so exotic sounding as psychoacoustic compression. It shows the level of detail that is required to come up with a new, effective product that works within the constraints of available technologies.
Module 8, concerning PhotoShop, shows a great use for the distort that I had never thought of. I'll have to file that one away to play with later.
I also came up with a long laundry list of outright errors or errors of omission. Some omissions I have purposely overlooked (mentioning the 486 slc but not dlc, for example) as being irrelevant to tangible understanding. It would, however, be a mistake to treat the author's work ( or mine!!!) as a gospel for reference.
Module 3b3- IBM did sell their Blue Lightning chips. I recall a large display for them at a local computer store in Virginia Beach. One of my shipmates bought one of their systems and brought it onboard the ship. It was a true, white-boxed clone. They might possibly have bundled it with a motherboard as an OEM solution for system builders.
Module 4c2a- Please don't confuse special purpose WORM drives with CD-R. Older drives exist that are specifically WORM drives and are incompatible with ISO 9660 formats. Yes, CD-R is a form of WORM, but it's not the only form.
Module 4e- There are products available to allow random access of files on tape. Onstream drives, as an example, come pre-packaged with this type of software. Veritas' Direct Tape Access was another such product. Also, the tape storage capacities for QIC and DAT were grossly inaccurate. I have a 13/26GB Magnus QIC at work, and DDS4 defines DAT drives with capacities of 20/40GB. Other common types of tape such as DLT and 8mm are omitted entirely.
Module 5A1B makes no notice that serial connections in excess of 115k are available with cheap expansion cards. Many recent motherboards have onboard I/O chips capable of 230K with a simple driver update. This can be useful information if you have an external ISDN adapter with a serial PC connection.
Module 5a2 implies that integrated I/O ports are a new feature of Pentium class machines. The first integrated IDE connector I saw was on a 286 motherboard . I think that Headland was the manufacturer. Additionally, Zenith (later Bull) Data Systems produced a large quantity of 486's with fully integrated motherboards. Those are 2 examples that I can cite from personal experience. Widespread integration became prevalent in Pentium class machines, but it was in very frequent use long before the Pentium's debut.
Module 5b3 omits that the system BIOS must supply the appropriate information to the OS via the INT13H extension in order for FAT32 to overcome the 8GB barrier. FAT32 can't do it alone. No BIOS support = No drives > 8GB.
Module 7a3- The last time I checked (30 mins ago) XGA was 1024*768 in resolution.
Module 7A6 states that CDROM drives require a cable from the drive to the audio card for audio output. Most drives have a headphone connector on the front, and many have independent play and stop/eject controls on the front. Audio output works quite well when connected to the front of the drive.
Module 7b3 omits a large number of ATI RAGE products between the MACH 64 and RAGE 128. I mention this only because a great many of these RAGE chipsets were used, and are in PC's and servers that are in service today. You may very well bump into one or more of them in your career.
Module 7b4's information on Voodoo makes no mention of their acquisition by Nvidia, and thus the end of the product line. Single purpose 3D accelerators are a thing of the past.
Module 7c2 says that most sound cards have a 2W amplifier. At one time sound cards did, but it's a safe bet to assume that any new card or card produced in the last 3 years will require active, powered speakers.
Module 7c3 fails to mention that Creative Labs acquired Aureal, ending the threat to their audio hegemony.
Module 7c5 states that Windows 2000 is the first NT version to support DirectX. While technically true, it fails to mention that NT4 included DirectX 3.0 as part of NT Service Pack 5.
Module 7d4 describes mod files. Mod files, much like the Amiga that spawned them, are much more popular in Europe than in the U.S. In the early 90's I spent quite a bit of time tinkering with mods. Support for mods on this side of the Atlantic, it seemed to me, dried up around 1995.
Nothing in the reading fundamentally changes the way that I look at computers and computing. The site is a great general reference and has a good amount of moderately advanced material. Like all references, it must be taken with a grain of salt and cross-checked against other references for completeness and accuracy.
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Week 2, Discussion Question 1
Spend some quality time examining/reading the web site:
List 3 things that you leaned from the site and explain how they enhance your view of how computers work.
See guestbook 35.