LIS-3353 - Hardware

Created Tuesday 07 September 2021

LIS-3353

Hardware

The software has to run on something...

(remember big rules)

  1. Math
  2. Instructions

The software has to run on something...

Let’s tighten up our definition of computer a bit:

It needs the ability to have changeable instructions

The software follows orders; but WHOSE?

Hopefully, yours?

Or someone that ACTUALLY CARES about you?

Or someone who can be relied on to do the right thing for you, maybe because you pay them, or they are required to by law?

(please feel free to freak out at the fact that it’s increasingly none of the above)

What is a computer?

What if it’s made of “general purpose computer” parts...

...but then, someone thinks that NOT you
(or NOT someone you trust)
(or NOT someone you pay)
(or NOT even some paid public servant or figure)

should be able to write your own instructions for it?

We know about these:

e.g.
Macs
Dells
etc.

What about these?

Nintendo
Xbox
Router
mp3 player
ipad
...

Oven...

Moore's Law?

Roughly:
"Computer devices double in power and halve in price..
..every 18 months."

(have we hit the limit?)

Here comes a rant....

Moore’s Law just got weird:

OLD SCHOOL – computers are expensive, so only build in functionality you need.

TODAY – computers are basically free, so f*** it. Throw the cheapest one in right NOW!!! Also

Rant Continued

If you have to manually root, jailbreak, unlock, or letterbomb it to make it do exactly what you want (or even worse, if you can't) maybe it shouldn't be considered a computer.

Perhaps, an appliance.

Don't get me started on the idea that a private company (as opposed to public law) can dictate what I do with legally obtained data or software...

...also, environmental impact

(if you agree, check out the "Right to Repair" movements)

Imagine:

“I’m sorry, this is a ‘chair’ hammer. You cannot build tables with it. This violates the warranty. Also, it is strongly suggested that you don’t tell other people how to build tables with it; and we will delete that discussion from the internet. Also, you talk to much about it, we may try to have you arrested.

Broad definition: Computer, by parts

Input
Processor
Output

Slightly Less Basic

INPUT
PROCESSOR
STORAGE
OUTPUT
(power)
(“gluing it all together”)

PROCESSOR (CPU)

Brains of the operation. “Does” the things. (which is really, does the math)

(GPU's are quite similar; just slightly more optimized to make pretty pictures and animations…

and increasingly, other stuff.e.g bitcoin mining, scientific calculations)

Power / Electricity

Lately, not a lot. At all.
Even old computers - generally less than a lamp.

..touch it. ☺

Except, of course:

Bitcoin Farm? Wasting electricity to show value. What?

STORAGE

PERMANENT

The “Board.” That's about it.
Reliance on this layer is increasingly rare, for obvious reasons.

(ROM used to mean this precisely: Read Only Memory...now it usually means the next thing...)

Semi-Permanent Storage

(Firmware)
Much of what you think of as “permanent” is more likely “firmware”

That is, technically changeable, but you don't do it a whole lot, only when you want to make deep, fundamental changes/updates to how the hardware operates.

“Changeable” storage

( YET another badly named thing in computing)

So, imagine you're in the library using books to work on a paper like it's ancient history or something...

RAM

RAM

(when people say “memory”)
- what you're working on now


(short term memory)

DRIVES (hard, solid-state, CD, etc.)

All (usually local) information that you can get to

(long term memory)

I won’t be putting movies on the quiz, but...

Hard drive was accidentally erased;

he's trying to recover it. His RAM is fine.

All data was preserved,

but his hard drive is now read only.

“Drives”

Old school

Today

“Spinny circle thing and a pointy thing”

Vinyl Records, Floppies, Laserdiscs.

Any “disc,” really….

To further confuse the issue:

This is "Memory/RAM"

To further confuse the issue:

And this is an SSD

Not a coincidence

SSDs and RAM are very similar..
..so similar that you can expect them to converge.

INPUT - OUTPUT

Human Input
Human Output
Digital Input
Digital Output

Analog v Digital

Analog

For us humans, literally *everything* is eventually Analog.

Digital

Watch for "where the conversion happens"

The good: Digital usually means "better quality" and definitely means "doesn't degrade"

Watch for "where the conversion happens"

The good and bad:
Digital means can be converted/encrypted.

Good when we can keep secrets from "enemies;"
Bad when "enemies" can keep things from you...more in a bit

Human Input (classic analog)

Keyboard
Touchscreen
Webcam
Microphone
Motion-Sensor
Mouses/Buttons/Sticks...and

Human Input (modern analog)

Thermometers?
Smoke detectors?
Motion detection?
Heart Monitors? etc etc
(and other “Internet of things” stuff”)

Human Output (classic analog)

Screen*
Speakers*/Headphones*
Paper

Human Output (classic analog)

“Internet of things” stuff here too?
Oculus Rift, Drones, lights/temp in your house, etc.

*but what are the “wires” lately? More to come

Digital Input/Output

General purpose:
Old-school – Serial and Parallel

Digital Input/Output

New hotness: Universal Serial Bus! (USB)
Input, output, charging, various sizes

(oh, and also whatever Apple's things are that should probably just be USB )

Digital Input/Output

Internet Data Oriented:

Digital/Analog Stuff

Generally, the wires going to the outputs are moving from analog to digital.

Advantage: Signal Quality.

(Monster Cables are definitely a ripoff here)

Disadvantage:
Sometimes, reduced interoperability, opportunity for DRM.

Audio

Analog: “RCA” – usually the “1/8” in jack, sometimes 1/4

(The best standard ever created, stop being suckers*
*fine, this is just my opinion but its totally true)

Digital: Bluetooth, USB, occasionally Ethernet and others

Video - Analog

TV Video:

Computer Video

(yeah, these are almost gone. ALMOST)

Video - Digital

DVI
HDMI

“glue”

Motherboards. Where it all comes together.

Today, yeah it can all be on one tiny thing

Ridiculous computing factoids

So what?

Raw computing power is extremely CHEAP and PLENTIFUL for most real-world applications:

So what?

The bad:
Companies will pretend that “hardware” and “software” can’t be separated to jack up prices
(i.e. non-changeable instructions)

So what?

The Internet of Things

The S in IoT stands for security :)

Internet of ****

IoT security is garbage, because you throw an
ultracheap, untested computer in your toaster
to rush to market, and now your toaster is attacking your family.

So what?

The good news:
This means we can all buy cheap computers to play and learn with.

Before Thursday

You don't have to have it DONE, but make a decision about "how you will do Linux Exercises"
Possibilities include:

I can already do this...i.e.

If this makes no sense to you, don't worry..

"I already am running Linux on one of my machines, and I have root (i.e. I can do sudo)"

( This includes "virtual")

I'm going to buy a Raspberry Pi

Cool, go for it. They have them at Best Buy, or online.

ANY model works

either the 4 or the 400 (same thing, but with a keyboard included) is best

I want to install a virtual machine on my computer

This is free and also cool. I will demo this on Thursday.

I will just use Torch

(this is the least preferred options, you'll get full credit but if you've never done this before you will learn the least)

This involves very little. On a Mac, you don't have to install anything new.

On Windows or Chromebooks, you will need an SSH client