Posts labelled Miscellaneous
I’ve just come out of a fairly long period of poor health due to back problems. After two prolapsed discs, three rounds of spinal injections and about four hundredweight of prescription painkillers, I hope to be a little more active on the site from now on.
This has been a painful illustration of the effect that a sedentary lifestyle (regular swimming doesn’t really help) has had on the state of my spine. I’ve had occasional mild back pain for years, and my physio tells me that if I’d dealt with it when it first appeared I would have avoided the agonising spasm that my lumbar spine went into (twice) last September, and the neck problems I’ve had since Christmas.
I’m finally back at work now, and as you’ll see Eoin and I are collaborating on a couple of things over the coming months. I’ll also be discussing some architectural initiatives I’m involved in (or leading) at work. Watch this space!
While the UK produces many highly-skilled computing graduates (disclosure: my son will be one in a couple of years) the quality of computer science teaching in primary and secondary schools leaves a lot to be desired. This has little to do with the teachers (who are motivated and talented in my personal experience), but an unimaginative and outdated curriculum which focuses more or less exclusively on how to use Powerpoint, Word and maybe a bit of Excel. So our children get reasonable exposure to computers as a tool for teaching and learning, but learn almost nothing about how computers actually work.
As a result we have a generation of young people in the UK who are depressingly ignorant about computer programming, computer hardware and networking. We teach our children about Newton’s laws, chemical reactions, and photosynthesis, but not about CPUs, networking, or compilers. Apart from the members of the school’s Computer Club (if there is one) we don’t give them the chance to write software or build their own computers. We teach them Ohm’s law but not Moore’s Law.
John Naughton is a columnist for The Observer and professor of the public understanding of technology at the Open University. He feels strongly on this issue, and has written a manifesto calling on the UK Education Secretary, Michael Gove, to overhaul the ICT curriculum. He wants computer science is taught as an “academic discipline in its own right and not … merely acquiring skills in the use of constantly outdated information appliances and shrink-wrapped software.”
Arthur C Clarke famously said that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” However there is no reason why this should be true of information technology. As Naughton says in his manifesto, “in a world shaped and dependent on networking technology, an understanding of computing is essential for informed citizenship.”
Colossus was the world’s first electronic digital programmable computer. It was designed and built by a team led by Tommy Flowers at Bletchley Park, UK, and was used to help decipher encrypted messages between Hitler and his generals during World War II.
Ten Colossus computers were in use by the end of the war. The intelligence gained is generally acknowledged as having shortened the war by two years and to have saved countless thousands of lives.
Colossus remained highly classified after the war, and Winston Churchill specifically ordered the destruction of most of the Colossus machines into “pieces no bigger than a man’s hand.” It was erased from the history of computing, read more ››
Welcome to the new website for Edition 2 of Software Systems Architecture!
Edition 2 was published in November 2011 and is a major revision of the original book. We have updated most of the chapters and added over 130 pages of additional content. The most important changes in this edition are as follows.
- We have introduced a new viewpoint, which we call the Context viewpoint. This describes the relationships, dependencies, and interactions between the system and its environment (the people, systems, and external entities with which it interacts). It extends, formalizes, and standardizes the relatively brief discussion of scope and context that used to be in Chapter 8.