September 25, 2016

Story of Bug and Debug in Computer Programming

While reading the The Innovators - How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, Chapter 3 deals with the History of Programming.

Most of the programmers find the word "bug" dreadful - as it means the software needs to be reprogrammed as it is not meeting the requirements.

Here's the story of how the term "bug" made its way into Programming.

A Little Background:

One of the initial programmers in the history of Computer Programming was Grace Hopper.

Hopper worked on Mark - I (A Computing Machine) at Harvard University, and later on Mark - II.

She was writing programs for the computing machines and also perfected the practice of subroutines, which is norm now in computer programming. Those were the days when new instructions were submitted via punched paper tape.

The Story of Bug:

Walter Isaacson writes:

In addition, her [Hopper's] crew helped to popularize the terms bug and debugging. The Mark II version of the Harvard Computer was in a building without window screens. One night the machine conked out, and the crew began looking for the problem. They found a moth with a wingspan of four inches that had gotten smashed in one of the electromechanical relays. It was retrieved and pasted into the log book with Scotch tape. "Panel F (moth) in relay," the entry noted. "First actual case of bug being found." From then on, they referred to ferreting out glitches as "debugging the machine."

September 13, 2016

Why This Book Should Be Made Compulsory In Engineering Colleges

A new book arrived at the small library we have at my workplace.

The Innovators - How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution  by Walter Isaacson.

Isaacson is the same guy who wrote Steve Jobs.

I issued the book from the library and have started reading.

In the first chapter, the writer introduces us that how the Digital world changed over time and how initial innovators of the age brought the changes that we have adapted to.

 I've been a teacher (Assistant Professor) in a few Engineering Colleges of Gujarat in my previous jobs, teaching subjects related to Computers and Information Technology.

And I found that as teachers we had very little time to teach the history of Computers and Internet.

As a result, the students never went into the amazing history of this Digital Revolution.

All they're concerned with cramming the Digital Circuits and a few Programs in different computer languages to be asked in the exams.

Students never come to know how all these technologies and innovations came into existence.

The little history they read in their first year is too dry and boring.

Instead, students should be made aware of the history with the help of fascinating stories - either in the form of book or videos.

And this is where "The Innovators" bridges the gap. A book written in a narrative style, as if you're reading a story.

Here's an excerpt from the first chapter (on the most used word these days: INNOVATION) :
We talk so much about innovation these days that it has become a buzzword, drained of clear meaning. So in this book I set out to report on how innovation actually happens in the real world. How did the most imaginative innovators of our time turn disruptive ideas into realities?
These days students are forced to do innovative projects for their final year projects.

But innovation cannot happen just with the intention of passing the exams and submitting project reports. It requires passion and thorough understanding of the underlying technological problems.

Students and Faculties should understand the underlying forces that brought the innovations these innovators made.

Another small excerpt from the first chapter:
[In this book] I also explore the social and cultural forces that provide the atmosphere for innovation. For the birth of digital age, this included a research ecosystem that was nurtured by government spending and managed by a military-industrial-academic collaboration. Intersecting with that was a loose alliance of community organizers, communal-minded hippies, do-it-yourself hobbyists, and homebrew hackers, most of whom were suspicious of centralized authority.
Finally, the author cites the example of one of the most brilliant innovators of Digital Age: Steve Jobs. He explains how the truest creativity spurs from those who could connect arts and sciences.

Innovation requires connecting the big ideas from the big disciplines. [Must Read: Creating a Lattice Work of Mental Model]

Here's an excerpt from the book:
Finally, I was struck by how the truest creativity of the digital age came from those who were able to connect the arts and sciences. They believed that beauty mattered. "I always thought of myself as a humanities person as a kid, but I liked electronics," Jobs told me when I embarked on his biography. "Then I read something that one of my heroes, Edwin Land of Polaroid, said about the importance of people who could stand at the intersection of humanities and sciences, and I decided that's what I wanted to do." The people who were comfortable at this humanities-technology intersection helped to create the human-machine symbiosis this is at the core of this story.

And based on above paragraph, the writer narrates the first story of a lady who understood the romance of poetry and intersected the romance of math and machinery.

I rest the post here with a request to all teachers to read this book and tell the stories to students. And dear students, read the book and get inspired to INNOVATE.

  

September 8, 2016

We Have Lost Touch With Humanity

I was reading Robin Sharma's - "Who Will Cry When You Die?". Love reading the book because I can start reading from any page. And each small lesson of these little book provides food for thought.

I read this book whenever I'm short of time, but want to read. It is great.

A small excerpt from the very first lesson of the book:

We can fire a missile across the world with pinpoint accuracy, but we have trouble keeping a date with our children to go to the library. We have e-mail, fax machines and digital phones so that we can stay connected and yet we live in a time where human beings have never been less connected. We have lost touch with our humanity. We have lost touch with our purpose. We have lost sight of the things that matter the most.
Isn't it worth pondering? We're busy checking our phones and emails every 5 minutes but we forget to check our purpose, our goals and our family members. We continuously try to refresh our news feed on Facebook and Twitter, but we don't have time to refresh our monotonous and clutter-filled lives.

And as Robin Sharma asks us respectfully:

Who will cry when you die? How many lives will you touch while you have the privilege to walk this planet? What impact will your life have on the generations that follow you? And what legacy will you leave behind after you have taken your last breath?

So as Robin suggests: We need to find our "calling" - our purpose in life. How you'd like to be remembered? And engage ourselves into some worthy pursuits. A unique purpose awaits us for which God has sent us on earth.

Tip: Disconnect To Connect

September 7, 2016

How I Wish I Could Be That Same School Going Kid

Last Friday I'd a small surgery (which turned out to be a little lengthy one.) Lasted for almost 3 hours.

I took a few days off after the surgery. Will be going to office from tomorrow.

I've been away from my mobile phone as much as possible these few days. And I feel that mobile phones have really robbed the simple pleasures of our lives. And also rob our precious time.

I've almost started hating mobile phones/tablets/laptops - anything that distracts my mind with utter nonsense stuff (FB, Whatsapp, Messages, etc.)

While being away from my mobile phone I was thinking that we've missed so much just after phones and Internet came in our life.

First it was the TV that invaded our personal lives and thoughts, and now its the phone and Internet.

I somewhat cried and missed my old school days.

Days when I had ample of time to play, read, study and still attend mandatory time-consuming things like school and coaching.

I had so much of time to do all the things I wished. It was a carefree life.

The thing is - life is still the same.

It's just that we have made it complicated.

And the tragedy of our life today is that we let die us inside of us while we live.

We have allowed these electronic devices to invade our lives and our personal space. In turn, we are getting more distracted, our concentration span is decreasing and we are constantly running short of time.

I would urge my readers to think over it and enjoy life without making it complicated.