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Reading binary code

30 September 2012 5 comments
Binary

Binary (Photo credit: noegranado)

Wait! Before you turn away thinking “uh, binary? No thanks this is NOT for me”, give me five minutes to explain just how easy it is to read.

After all, you never know, you may one day meet the man/woman of your dreams (albeit a very geeky one) at a party and want to impress him/her with your knowledge and intelligence…(admittedly very far fetched but just humour me here).

So here goes..let’s start.

The binary system is the number system recognised by computers. A computer understands only two values, 1 and 0 (they’re not particularly intelligent).

If computers could talk and you asked it ‘what are you thinking?’, it would probably say ‘Oh, nothing’ (because it deals with so many zeros..geddit?).

Computers read binary code to define system elements such as memory locations, monitor colours etc. Everything and anything.

  • The first thing to realise is that binary is solely made up of just ones and zeros.
  • The second is that you always read binary from right to left – not the standard left to right (much like Arabic..feeling cultured already eh?).

Calculate binary by using the below scale. For simplification, this table only has the first 8 numbers. You’ll notice that each value or position is double the preceding value (i.e. the value to the right).

Table of first 8 binary values

To formulate a decimal number you just add together all positions marked with a “1” and ignore the positions marked with a “0”.

For example, if you wanted to represent the decimal number 2 in binary, you would write the following:

10.

In this example, the “0” in the first binary position tells you to skip the first value (which represents the decimal number 1). You then move to the second value which represents the decimal number 2. The “1” says to count that number. Remember we’ve read the 10 from right to left.

“There are only 10 people in the world; those that understand binary and those that don’t”

So following the above, to represent the number 5 in binary, you would enter the following:

101.

In this example you count the 1st binary position (..decimal value 1), skip the 2nd (..2) and count the 3rd (..4). So 1 + 4 = 5. Easy right!?

The number 43 is represented by 101011. i.e. 1+2+8+32 = 43.

The decimal value 43 in binary

Taking a much bigger number – the binary representation of the decimal number 100,000 would be:

The decimal value 100,000 in binary

This takes a whopping 17 binary values to add together. 11000011010100000.

Check it yourself – add all the values represented by a 1, and you get 100,000.

And it really is that easy. All you need is the scale and a bit of time to plot out each ‘one’ and then add all the values together. In this way computers can deal with very big numbers easily and quickly (rather than having to count out 100,000 x 1’s for the value 100,000 for instance).

Next up is Hexadecimal code (which I’m just in the process of writing a post on), and how to convert between binary, hexadecimal and decimal systems (‘ooh, can’t wait’ I hear you say).

Big big BIG numbers: googols, centillions and googolplexes

1 July 2012 4 comments

Numbers numbers numbers...“I love you one hundred million times” – says my 3-year-old daughter to me.

“(lol) Well I love you 20 thousand trillion times more!” – Me back to daughter whilst thinking, ‘well what is after a trillion anyway? Hmm..’

I know the below stuff is on Wikipedia (which is where I got it all from) but I’m guessing not many people have actually thought to (or bothered to?) learn what comes after a million – billion – trillion – etc etc.

So in true QI fashion let us ponder this ‘quite interesting’ stuff and go through the names of some stupidly-massively-huge numbers. All in the name of learning something new that you may not have ever thought to before!

Names of large numbers

The first thing to realise is that the UK and the US have got a different naming system to continental Europe (not sure what places like Canada and Australia do – probably the same as the UK/US I’d imagine). So for example in Europe they call 1,000,000,000 a Milliard, whereas in the UK/US we call it a Billion. Their Billion which follows that is our Trillion, and so on).

  • I’ll just stick to the UK/US naming convention.
  • The Short Scale depicts how many 0’s there are after a 1, – so for example 1 Million is 1,000,000 (or 106).
  • In practice the below terms aren’t really used. Instead it is simply read out “ten to the forty-fifth” which is just as easy to say, easier to understand, and less ambiguous than “quattuordecillion” (which can also mean something different in the long scale and the short scale anyway!).
Name (UK/US naming) Short scale
Million 106
Billion 109
Trillion 1012
Quadrillion 1015
Quintillion 1018
Sextillion 1021
Septillion 1024
Octillion 1027
Nonillion 1030
Decillion 1033
Undecillion 1036
Duodecillion 1039
Tredecillion 1042
Quattuordecillion 1045
Quindecillion (Quinquadecillion) 1048
Sexdecillion (Sedecillion) 1051
Septendecillion 1054
Octodecillion 1057
Novemdecillion (Novendecillion) 1060
Vigintillion 1063
Centillion 10303

So you see it’s actually fairly simple and goes up Bi-, Tri-, Quad-, Quin-, etc etc. All latin-based words. On this University of North Carolina webpage they discuss another Greek-based naming system, though this is highly unlikely to ever be adopted!

So what of the bigger numbers?

  • A Googol is 10100 (which Google famously takes it’s name from via a misspelling).
  • A Googolplex is 10Googol (which a chap called Carl Sagan estimated that writing out in standard form (i.e., “10,000,000,000…”) would be physically impossible, since doing so would require more space than the known universe provides!).
  • Nothing however is as large as Infinty, which is a nice catch-all really for ‘one more than you’.

Further links

Enjoying the sights and sounds of Borough Market, London

1 May 2012 6 comments

Borough Market is one of the largest food markets in London and sells a large variety of foods from all over the world.

We spent a few enjoyable hours there in early Feb 2012, soaking in all the sights and sounds of this fantastic place (plus taking a few photos and tasting various delicious foods).

Delicious Mediterranean food such as Baclava - yum

Delicious Mediterranean food such as Baclava – yum

The covered market is situated in Southwark, just south of the river from London Bridge, and is renowned as a particularly fashionable place to go shopping for your food.

A mountain of chocolate Brownies - and yes, they tasted good..

A mountain of chocolate Brownies – and yes, they tasted good..

It’s easy to realise why it’s so popular once you’ve visited and seen the huge variety of amazing stalls, delicious food and heavenly smells. It really is a definite ‘must see’ place.

Everywhere you turn there are stalls providing fresh cooked food

Everywhere you turn there are stalls providing fresh cooked food

See the below website for information on opening times, exact location, types of market stalls, produce, events, and more.
 
This meal was £4ish and was chorizo and salsa on fresh bread - an amazing taste

This meal was £4ish and was chorizo and salsa on fresh bread – an amazing taste

A great review from www.yelp.co.uk/biz/borough-market-london-2:

Go hungry. You’ll want to eat your way through this market. There is food everywhere you turn. Pallea, fish and chips, cheese, baked goods, fruit and vegetables, sandwiches (ranging from beef to ostrich to lamb) and drinks (fruit shakes to Pimms and lemonade)….the list just goes on. Rain or shine, this market is packed. Bring cash, few vendors accept credit cards. Be prepare to rub elbows and eat standing, while being bumped.  Farmers and vendors providing some of the finest in London….you can’t get any better. Give yourself two hours, wear closed toe shoes, and bring your camera. MUST SEE!

Bringing a little bit of Paris to London

Bringing a little bit of Paris to London

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borough_Market has lots of background info on the market should you be interested.

You can be healthy..

You can be healthy..

..or try something more naughty

..or try something more naughty

Loads of the stalls let you sample the food too

Loads of the stalls let you sample the food too

Caipirinha: a highly recommended cocktail

8 April 2012 1 comment

Caipirinha, the national cocktail of BrazilMy wife and I stayed overnight in London earlier this year and after a fantastic day enjoying the sights and sounds of the capital we succumbed to our rumbling tummies and settled down in a very funky latin american restaurant near Soho – Salsa on Charing Cross Road.

It was a great place to chance upon and we were lucky to end up there. The music was great, the décor funky and interesting. Plus it was busy and bustling with loads of friendly people having a great time together. All in all a great atmosphere, and an ideal place in which to grab a bite to eat and have a few bevies.

The best thing though was that we noticed all cocktails were half-price, so about £2.25 – not bad for London.

It was also clear from looking around at other people’s tables that they were a popular choice, rather than the bottles of Sol and San Miguel on offer.

And what a great selection there turned out to be: Margaritas, Daiquiris, Mojitos, and a delicious drink which was new to me – the Caipirinha.

As national drink of Brazil, the Caipirinha is a sassy drink designed for those who are sweet and sour. The prime ingredient, cachaca (distilled from sugarcane), tastes a bit like rum and with fresh lime, sugar and ice tossed in, is a delicious refreshing drink and one that slips down all too easily!

Caipirinha Ingredients (per drink)

Use a tumbler (low glass)

50ml Abelha Cachaça Silver or Abelha Cachaça Gold – buy it from Waitrose, or many other supermarkets in the UK
1/2 a Lime
2 heaped teaspoons Castor Sugar (fine white sugar)
Crushed Ice

Method

  1. Cut the lime into quarters and then cut out and throw away the white core of the lime as it’s bitter. Cut the corners into smaller bits, and put half a limes worth in the tumbler glass.
  2. Add 2 heaped teaspoons of  sugar. Castor sugar dissolves consistently, but you can use Demerara or any other sugar if you wish. All appear to be used throughout Brazil and across the World.
  3. Muddle (squish) the limes. If you don’t have a muddler, use a rolling pin or similar implement, or just simply squeeze the juice out of the lime bits with your fingers.
  4. Fill the glass 3/4 full with crushed ice.
  5. Pour a 50ml shot of Cachaça over the ice.
  6. Mix but don’t stir the drink.
  7. Top the glass up with ice, uncrushed or crushed, and add a straw.
  8. Drink, enjoy and repeat until drunk!

.

How to make a caipirinha cocktail from Abelha Cachaca on Vimeo.

What’s your favourite cocktail?

Leave a comment below on what your favourite cocktail is and why.

I’m always on the search and willing to try something new!

Richard Madeley IS Alan Partridge

24 March 2012 1 comment

I usually listen to Radio 2 of a morning when I’m in the kitchen and making the kid’s breakfast, and am sad enough to admit I get a flutter of excitement whenever I realise Richard Madeley is standing in for Chris Evans.

The reason being is that he simply makes my day! I cannot help but imagine that it’s really Alan Partridge on the other end of the radio.

Sure enough as I’m listening, the following morsels of sound bites, social faux pas and general awkwardness come tripping over themselves into my ears…

“…loving your work, Lynn”..

…”When we were trying to conceive, I would douse my balls in icy cold water before intercourse’”…

…”Bangkok lady-boys are fascinating creatures…I’m merely confused by them, not attracted to them”… (well maybe not this one on the radio but you get my drift).

Looking at the above quotes you’d admit it’s hard to tell who they’re actually attributed to. Either (the brilliant) Alan Partridge, a fictional radio and television presenter portrayed by English comedian Steve Coogan, or (the equally brilliant, in our eyes) Richard Madeley, a real-life British television presenter and columnist who equally comes out with the most outrageous comments.

Richard Madeley IS Alan Partridge

Which one’s which??

It does’t stop there either.

Image the scene, a distressed lady who’s developed a Jamaican accent after some sort of neurological trauma is on the show and is being interviewed. She’s saying how unhappy she is about it, but the interviewer still can’t resist doing his Jamaican/Ali G accent whenever he can.

Or, calling people who stole garden plants ‘optimistic thieves’ instead of ‘opportunistic’.

Or, whilst interviewing Frank Sinatra’s daughter “It’s obvious you loved your father, but do you think you were actually in love with him?”

Or, whilst interviewing an actor who played a bisexual character in a film or a TV drama, then asking the actor if he was bisexual and who he would prefer to have sex with… himself or Judy.

See the forums.digitalspy.co.uk/showthread.php?t=415609 for more brilliant examples.

ABOUT ALAN, or is it RICHARD?

Despite being a broadcaster, he is a socially incompetent and awkward character prone to one-upmanship, embarrassing social faux pas and displays of deep insensitivity to social norms.

His thoughtlessness and selfish lack of interest in anything beyond his own objectives exposes an unsympathetic character that is disliked and privately lampooned by many of those with whom he comes into contact.

ABOUT RICHARD, or is it ALAN?

An acknowledged expert on every subject, he was the host of the UK’s most popular tea-time talk show before he propelled satellite TV into a new era with his show on ‘Watch’. Sadly, that era was akin to the ‘Dark Ages’ but with lower viewing figures. He now divides his time between radio and voice-over work for a range of high performance mobility scooters.

His hobbies include skiing, water sports, breaking endurance records, and creating world-shattering inventions in his garden shed. His dislikes are many and include squirrels, tap dancers, turnips, rosy cheeked farmers, hostage situations, El Greco, Bulgaria, Tony Robinson, ear wax, the word ‘humungous’, Tetley tea bags, North Korea, Eric Clapton, suffragettes, mimosa, beard trimmers, duck tape, manilla envelopes, and 60s pop sensation Lulu.

He lives in London with his wife Judy.

(taken and adapted from the brilliant richardmadeley.blogspot.co.uk).

But!

We still wouldn’t have it any other way. We don’t want Richard to change. The cringe-worthiness and embarrassing episodes are just so entertaining and enthralling to witness that to not have him on our screens or hear him on the radio would be a huge shame.

Tell us below of any other moments of Richard Madeley magic…

Bring back Rootjoose

23 March 2012 3 comments

Of all the bands that deserved to ‘make it’ and become mainstream was Rootjoose, a brilliant funk-rock band from the late 90’s/early 2000’s.

Rootjoose - Rhubarb album cover
Hailing from the UK’s surf capital Cornwall, the band released their debut album Rhubarb in 1997, an energy-filled and diverse fusion of funk, pop, dance and surf-rock.

Hits on the album included “Mr. Fixit” & “Can’t Keep Living This Way”. The best from an album that frequently takes you back to those hazy late 90’s summer days.

Great to see live, their performances included light shows and semi-choreographed “comedy” dances that enlivened crowds. They immediately got a cult following of dedicated fans from gigging up and down the country, more so in the south west where they appeared on local and at one point national television.


Just as the band was tipped to break through into the mainstream though, their record label Rage went bankrupt. The fashion at the time was for introspective indie music rather than their more upbeat style, so they were unable to secure a new recording contract and broke up in 2001 after releasing a ‘home-grown’ EP Money and Time early in 1999.


It was a sad end for a band that had created it’s own musical niche, and were showing a lot of promise for greater things.

Bring back Rootjoose!

Funky websites and technology as endorsed by me

13 October 2011 2 comments

There are a number of websites which I use regularly, all of which are that bit extra special and that I think others should know about. I’ve listed 12 such favourites below.

I’m hoping that you may not have heard of some of these, so please check out my count-down to the number one special site that I think everyone should know about and try to use. You never know you may find something new and think ‘Wow, I wish I knew about that before’.

12. Wikipedia

You may think it odd to start with Wikipedia but it is possibly the most useful website to regularly use; not only as an encyclopedic reference tool to gain more knowledge on practically anything, but also as a frequently updated news resource. It is a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project with 18 million articles (over 3.6 million in English) that have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site, something that can inevitably lead to errors and vandalism. I also have to cite that I have extensively used it’s hallowed words to help explain the websites below!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

11. Hoaxslayer

Have you ever wondered whether the email that has been forwarded to you about say for instance..’New York Starbucks charging 9/11 rescue workers for water’ is true? Or whether it’s a load of old cobblers (incidentally the Starbucks one is a load of bollocks). Websites such as Hoaxslayer are “dedicated to debunking email hoaxes, thwarting Internet scammers, combating spam, and educating web users about email and Internet security issues. Hoax-Slayer allows Internet users to check the veracity of common email hoaxes and aims to counteract criminal activity by publishing information about common types of Internet scams. Hoax-Slayer also includes anti-spam tips, computer and email security information, articles about true email forwards, and much more. New articles are added to the Hoax-Slayer website every week.” Useful eh? Some of the articles are fascinating to read. You need not ever read a junk email ever again and wonder whether it’s true or not.

http://www.hoax-slayer.com/

10. W3Schools

I’m leaning more to a technical web-technologies slant here. But if you’ve ever wanted to learn and understand about the languages and technologies that power the world wide web then look no further than W3Schools. A web developer’s portal, W3Schools is free of charge with tutorials and references relating to web development subjects, including HTML, XML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and SQL. There’s also sand-boxed interactive areas that let you mess around with coding and see the outcome.

http://www.w3schools.com/

9. GoDaddy

Go Daddy is an Internet domain registrar and Web hosting company that also sells e-business related software and services. In 2010, it reached more than 45 million domain names under management. Go Daddy is currently the largest ICANN-accredited registrar in the world, and is four times the size of its closest competitor. Basically if you want to write your own website (through WordPress for example) then you can host it easily and cheaply through GoDaddy. They’ve got a really useful friendly helpline and make things really easy to get you and your website up and online.

http://www.godaddy.com/

8. WordPress

The above leads us neatly onto WordPress. Do you want a blog or a website easily and quickly? Then look no further than WordPress; an open-source blog tool and publishing platform used by over 13% of the 1,000,000 biggest websites. WordPress has a web template system using a template processor. Users can re-arrange widgets without editing PHP or HTML code; they can also install and switch between themes. It’s a doddle to use and there’s loads of tips and advice out there to get the most out of the platform.

http://wordpress.com/ (for a free blog) or http://wordpress.org/ (to create your own site, to then host through a web-hosting company like GoDaddy for example).

7. Dropbox

Dropbox is a free web-based file hosting service that uses cloud computing to enable users to store and share files and folders with others across the Internet using file synchronization. You can upload and then access from any other computer with an internet connection your photos, docs, and videos – all hidden and secure. You need never lose your files from a dodgy hard-drive or removal storage device anymore.

http://www.dropbox.com/

6. SourceForge

SourceForge is a web-based applications and software directory. It acts as a centralized location for software developers to control and manage open source software development. Hosting more than 230,000 projects, SourceForge offers free access to hosting and tools for developers of free / open source software. You can use the site to access and download a multitude of key applications and software – the list of useful tools on there is mind boggling. If you want a free version of NotePad ++ , or a password manager such as KeePass Password Safe, then this is where you get it from.

http://sourceforge.net/

5. Picnik Photo Editor or Sketchpad

Now owned by Google, Picnik is a free online photo editing service. It can import photos natively from Facebook, Myspace, Picasa Web Albums, Flickr, Yahoo Image search and also offers options to upload from a computer or to upload from a website. Many of Picnik’s basic photo editing tools are free to use with additional photo editing features offered via Picnik Premium for a monthly, 6-month, or annual subscription cost. The website is mega-useful as you don’t have to rely on expensive non-web-based imaging software anymore to alter and edit your images.

http://www.picnik.com/

4.Wavepad Sound Editor

Want to chop and change audio files to create your own music? Or even just convert between different audio file types? Then try the brilliant Wavepad Editor. It’s so easy to use. You can easily create your own ring tones or message alerts by cropping bits out of songs. The full version is given for 14 days but even after that the free version has lots of useful functions still.

http://www.nch.com.au/wavepad/index.html

3. BitTorrent

BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing program (it’s a protocol too just like http or html) used for distributing large amounts of data between peers on the internet. BitTorrent is one of the most common protocols for transferring large files, and it has been estimated that it accounted for roughly 27% to 55% of all Internet traffic (depending on geographical location) as of February 2009. You can use it to download Movies, TV Shows, Music, Software and more.

http://www.bittorrent.com/ then search for ‘torrents’ using something such as http://www.picktorrent.com/

2. Spotify

Ahh, where do I start with Spotify? Perhaps that the app on my GS2 is so easy to use? Perhaps that I get access to all the music I could ever want? (I’m sure I’ll be 60+ before I manage to listen to the stuff that I’ve downloaded). Whatever, it’s just that my life has changed lots since subscribing to Spotify. It’s just so easy to use and I’ve listened to so much stuff that I would never have accessed so easily before. It does cost mind – the free access gets you certain privileges, but nothing like the £5-a-month or £10-a-month subscriptions (the latter which lets you download as much as you want then access it when you’re off-line). In short, try it. If you don’t like it then you’re not looking for new music on it hard enough.

Go to http://www.spotify.com/ for more details and to download it.

1. Netvibes

“[The] first personalized dashboard publishing platform for the Web. Digital life managment, Widget distribution services and brand observation rooms”

Perhaps not the sexiest or most straightforward way of billing itself, but my top pick for useful websites. In simple terms it’s a website where you can create and organise your own personalised ‘dashboard’ with tabs containing web content pulled through from other websites (using webfeeds or RSS feeds). It can easily display bite size information from all your email accounts, FaceBook, Twitter, Digg, Blogs, news, sport pages, magazine articles etc – you name it, all in one place. You create an account and can log in from any computer as there’s nothing to download. There’s loads of similar websites that do this but Netvibes for me is the most simple and effective one. Everyone should try it!

http://www.netvibes.com

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