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Newsletter May 2012- CPU, Digital Age, Q&A Print
May 2012

How much Faster is a Modern CPU?
Presumably modern processors are faster than the initial models.  How much faster?  What else is better?  Frankly, not much else is better.  Modern processors are not cooler (as in temperature) or quieter (they need fans to take away the heat).  They are not prettier as they are similar to the heart of a human body which needs to be functioning well and not looking pretty.  However, if we extend the question from processors to the PC system level, we will see a lot more improvements such as larger and more real life visual displays, 12 channel audio, large data storage reservoirs, and wireless links to the outside world etc.  This article focuses on x86 computer processor units (CPU) only.  Let us address speed now.  There are 3 easy to understand parameters to indicate the improvement of computing speed.
Appraising the Digital Age (teaching level)?

In the April 26 seminar, we discussed 9 topics in 120 minutes to distinguish Digital Age phenomena from Industrial Age.  The overwhelming majority of the audience expressed total satisfaction with the scope and quality of information presented.  In order to keep things brief for a 10 minutes overview here, we have reduced the content to 4 topics for retaining on our website.  The topics are Digital Fathers (contributing to the birth), Digital Age (as against calendar age), Digital Devices (refer to cars and trucks), and Digital Village (collaboration, standardisation, and polarization).  This link leads to Digital Age and shows a person prescribed as Intellectually Handicapped conducting in a national level orchestra concert.

Where are we in Digital Age (student level)?

We have singled out 4 topics about the Digital Age to teach our students at Kamo High School on 27 April 2012.  The first topic is Digital Babies and Digital Fathers.  A small boy asked mum, “Did you download me from the Internet?” The population shot up from around 2 billion in 1945 upon the end of WWII to 7 billion over the last 66 years.  Obviously there were more fathers than before.  We singled out the best father as in Vince Cerf.  He deserves to be called the Father of IP for whatever he has contributed to mankind over the last 40 years and currently.  The second topic is Digital Village where international cooperation occurred on a big scale thanks to digital technologies.  We used Hubble Space Telescope as the example of cooperation, how it was brought up to its orbit by a space shuttle and its sad end of outliving space shuttles.  The telescope has revealed the depth of the universe as current technology allows, and found the first planet outside of our solar system at 150 light years from earth.  The 3rd & 4th topics are Digital Advancements and Virtual Realities.  They included both consumer and business perspectives.  Please see this article for more details.

Next CPD Seminar is Wed 23 May 2012

Topics for the seminar are Windows Diagnostic Tools, migration to Ivy Bridge, and if time allows, a glimpse of a super fast professional graphics engine located in TSD.   Outside the Square and Professional Development will precede the above technical contents- we will discuss Nanotechnology (what is it and how does it help us) and Marketing (progression of concepts) this time.  Venue is Compucon House in Albany.  Time would be from 4pm to 6pm followed by wine and cheese.  If you are interested to join this seminar (it is free of charge), please let us know by return email and we will email the seminar outline to you at least a week before the event.  

Q&A: Do the Answers Make Sense at all!

A respectable science teacher in one of the major schools asked the two questions below. The writer replied as neutral and impartial as possible.  However, the writer found that those 2 words are subject to interpretations.  Feel free to express your opinions by return email.  This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Q1: Which technologies are likely to be poor value? 

A1: This is a very difficult question to address as it requires not just a complete understanding of technologies but also what the public perceives.  Ignorant public can be educated to accept poor technology through marketing.  Over the last 20 years, the writer has seen products on the market based on poor technology initially but they were very popular due to marketing effectiveness.  Marketing has convinced the majority of the public to accept poor products as the norm or even outstanding. Back to the question, all products not developed on open technology platforms are going towards the dead end and are of poor value. 

Q2: How to teach students to be resilient and flexible? 

A2: My advice is to go at least one step below the surface and find out what it is.  For example, if we teach students how to design new products based on a computer that has been pre-packaged with consumer grade graphic design tools, our students will be confined to the scope and standard as pre-defined by the computer.  Using a consumer grade pre-packaged design tool would be fine for the introduction session to students but not for teaching Graphic Design as a curriculum throughout the year.  We shall not limit our teaching to any one particular commercial product.  Assess if a commercial product fulfils the criteria of an open platform.  Open refers to conforming to established industry standards and interfacing protocols such as defined by IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering), IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force), and other independent learned organisations.  Closed refers to proprietary designs which are used by commercial companies to maximize profits.  Using closed technology products will lead to a dead end no matter how popular the product is in the eyes of consumers.  UK Engineering and Technology Magazine May 2012 issue has an article relevant to the teaching of computers in schools.  It reported that many universities concentrated on specific languages and practice rather than principles and it is not right for education purposes.