Google I.T. Cert – Week 1

CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

A brief history and intro to computing concepts.

Week 1 of the Google IT Support Professional Certificate Course was really…easy. There were a couple of questions that popped up during the videos but I got them all! So far, so good. If anyone is unfamiliar with the basic layout of an online course, there seems to be a common formulation: watch some videos, answer a couple multiple-choice questions, repeat several times, then maybe make some comments in a forum or complete a quiz. That was the basic structure of Week 1.

As far as the actual course material, I do have a cursory understanding of the topic, at least at the early, early “entry” level. I have read a few novels with some computer science in them. I used to buy 2600 (do it!) when I worked next to a Barnes & Noble. I have an interest in the subject matter going back many years, and I have recently completed an IT* job training program, during which (I think) someone explained the way data is stored and computed in “squares.” Or whatever you call it when everything is 2×2, or 2x2x2. or etc. This is due to the fact that computers are based on a bit of information being in an either “1” or “0” state—either “on” or “off,” because, way back when computing was first mechanized, a punch card was used and there was either a punch in the card or there wasn’t. Computing is based on switches, which became transistors, to create logical structures to process information. Now we’re at the algorithm, which is just an instruction to execute some process. In computing, that means processing data of some kind. But, before digital storage, the course starts with a basic history of computing.

Charles Babbage is credited with the invention of the concept of mechanical computation, and demonstrated this with the creation of the Analytical Engine in the 1830’s. This was a machine that could do math problems using gears and stuff.

`The Enigma Machine - Photo By Alessandro Nassiri CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0), via Wikimedia Commons`

According to the videos, between Babbage and World War II there is not much history of computing. I was very upset to note that the presenter said that, during the war, Alan Turing invented the Enigma Machine, instead of explaining that he actually decrypted a captured unit, which helped end the terror of the German Uboats in the Atlantic. Unbelievable! I think I actually gasped in horror at this error, committed by Google, no less, the very gatekeepers of all knowledge and history, the self-appointed arbiters of the future of computing, if not civilization itself. Unbelievable!

There were some other basic concepts introduced, such as binary numbers, ASCII, and how data is measured, like bits, bytes, kilobytes, etc. The fact that, for example, “kilo,” traditionally, means 1000, but “kilobyte” actually means 1024. It seems a little late to be sorting out, but there are now prefixes (“kibi-” for 1024) to denote the computing kind of 1000, instead of the metric-system kind of 1000, which actually means 1000. So we all need to be saying “gibibyte,” apparently, but I have a feeling this is not catching on. Although, yeah, it is fun to say “kibi.”

That about sums up Week 1. I forget what the few quiz questions were, as I was not taking notes, but I got them correct, and also posted a couple of comments in the forum. Probably have more thoughts on the forum in the coming weeks, but it seems a little too large and chaotic to be very beneficial until the material becomes more specialized (and some students drop out).

Onward to Week 2 – Hardware.

*Does “IT” look better than “I.T.”? The internet seems to be fairly evenly split on this style question. I like the punctuation, but it does kind of eat into my time. Feel free to leave critical comments.

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