Book Reviews Computing

Code – Charles Petzold

Anyone interested in learning more about computers might enjoy ‘Code’ by Charles Petzold. I’ve just finished it, and found it very readable.

It sets out to be a beginners guide to how computers work, but without all the cute analogies and pictures of 1’s and 0’s in pidgeon holes that seem to crop up in other texts like this.

It probably helps that I first encountered the author as my introduction to programming Windows. As I type this I’m unsure if I ever read all of his classic ‘Programming Windows’ (I was a student when I needed to, and probably borrowed it), but I certainly read large chunks. It has a clear, no-nonsense, style I enjoyed.

All you really need to understand to follow Code is how a relay works, and he explains that from first principles. He then works up to laying them out by the thousand to produce a computer recognisable today. One interesting observation is that much of the technology needed to create a computer was around a hundred years old before someone assembled one we would recognise. There’s a different path the world might have taken, if that had happened earlier!

Computing Video

Whatever happened to DirectShow?

Some time ago, I stopped following the ins and outs of Windows development. I keep wondering if I will ever return, but it hasn’t happened yet.

I still see echos of the work the DirectShow team did in the 1990’s (I’m aware they were building on the work of others), and today I stumbled on this update from Geraint Davies, one of the original architects.

It was nice to learn what happened next – thanks Geraint!

Computing Video

Sign of the times

I finally got caught up with wiring in several recent additions to our main TV. I needed to replace a 5 way ethernet switch with an 8 way, in order to keep them connected. At some point in the last few years, everything entertainment has grown an ethernet socket. Buying the 5 way felt outrageously advanced, only a few years ago!