Friday, March 11, 2005

Humans - So simple, yet so complex.

Have you ever wondered what a complex mechanism the human body is, and how many facets it has? Well, I'm sure you have. Everyone has asked themselves this question sometime or the other, and has felt the hopelessness within due to the inability to answer it. One of my friends did notice something similar to what I experienced today. I was just doting upon one of our subjects in college - Computer Graphics [CG], and the different kinds of techniques and algorithms used to render 3D graphics on a 2D monitor. The complexity of these techniques is such that it would be impossible to study them without an external aid such as that of mathematics. The approach used is to convert a situation into a mathemtical model, and then apply some transformations to that model or set of equations obtained thereof, to get the final result in the form of equations or numbers, which are then interpreted accordingly, and displayed on screen.

Let us take a simple example such as filling a polygon or a figure having a random shape and orientation in space. This task is quite complicated for computer to perfrom, and during the course of the running algorithm, it has to perform various checks, and handle the situations accordingly. If on the other hand, you look at humas, we will be able to tell or at least imaging exactly what the shape will look like after filling has taken place. Testimony to that is that small children are first taught to do such filling operations on sketched out figures, and they are able to do so without much difficulty and little or no help.

However, the other side of the coin has somethinh entirely different to say. Consider the task of multiplying 1000 - 3 digit numbers together. It is a task solved within a fraction of a second by a computer, where as a human may take a few minutes at the least to perform the same operation!

So, the question that arises here is why are there such differences between seemingly smilar tasks and why humans are able to solve some very quickly and others not so quickly? And why do computers behave in a similar way? Also, if computers were designed to solve computationally intensive problems fast, why do they fail on some accounts? This question will probably be answered if we probe deeper into the birth of computers and really understand the basic thinking behind the forefathers of the computer.

Another question that arises because of the above line of reasonaing is: Will computers be able to solve the problems in the near future which they can not presently, and which humans solve with relative ease? A similar question can be framed for humans too. There are arguments both way. For example, we can argue that since the first computer was invented, they have come a long way, and can now perform tasks that seemed impossible at that time. In short, computers have evolved. However, huans have been on the face of planet earth for sooooo many years now, and they too have evolved, and this process is an on going one, and nobody know if and when it will end. I strongly believe that evolution [at least for humans] is a non ending process, and the moment the human race stops evolving, it will be doomed, simply because it will not be able to cope with the environmental changes taking place around it. So, the basic factor guiding evolution is probably the environment in which the humans live and thrive. So, does the environment for computers change similarly? The environment is guided solely by humans, and their environment changescontinuously, even without their knowing about it, so it should be quite evident that the environment for computers changes too, and that too at quite a rapid pace.

So, can computers 'evolve'? I don't think they can do so automatically! At least not now. Who knows what the future holds. There have been various novel and probably not so successful ideas and concepts such as AI [Artificial Intelligence], which I believe have been no close to failure. The best they could do is program a computer to beat the Chess Crand Master. That probably does not constitute AI as far as I am concerned. It is more of an exercise in super computing, and combinatorial logic. However, arrogant it may seem, it is probably the naked truth.

So, humans rule once more!
All Hail God

And a Solution :-)

Ok, let me without any further ado get straight to the point. How should one go about cleaning their computer? Well, firstly make sure that you have the confidence to open up that baby, and strip off it's clothes ;-) After you've gobbled down a few pegs, you will feel like man enough to do the needful! BUT, STOP, relax, and come back later. Let me assure you that you are in no position to open up your computer [unless of course you've decided to take up 'sanyas' and live the rest of your life in the Himalayas like a Sadhu, in which case you wouldn't need your computer anyways].

Oops, OT is my middle name! Grrrrrr. Ok, here's the deal. Every time, I deviate from the topic.... well, forget it. I won't bore you any further. Well, now once you have opened up your computer, removed all the various cards and the IDE connectors, carefully remove the CPU fan's cable, and then remove the CPU fan from atop the CPU [Do this carefully. If you screw up, don't coming running to me].

Now, you have 2 options. One is the dry way, and the other is the wet one. I used a hybrid. Here's what I did. I removed the motor along with the fan blades, and removed the dust from then using my vacuum cleaner, in high power blow mode. To remove the dust which was stuck hard on the heat dissipating alloy, I dipped in in warmish water, and then washed it under moderate pressure running cool water. This ensures that after the dust has become loose, we can wash it away using hydraulic power. Then, wait for it to dry. In the mean time, we can get down to blowing out the dust from on top the mother board [using a vacuum cleaner again]. Once that is done, check if the alloy is dry enough to be put back. If it is then, attach the fan to it, put it back atop the CPU, make the various connections, put on the casing and you're ready to use an overhauled computer! Now, isn't that simple :-)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

My Computer won't work properly :-(

This is a more technical thing I'm gonna talk about now. Yesterday, I did a complete overhaul of my computer; in the sense that I cleaned up all the cobwebs that had been created on the various components like CPU and motherboard by certain 'spidery' creatures.

The main source of congestion was dust particles collecting on the CPU fan, and the Display card fan. What effect does this dust have? At first, you like me might think that it just spoils the aesthetics of the internals of the computer, but that is not the case! Surprised? You'd better be. Well, here's the deal. The dust formed on the CPU fan, and the heat dissipator[usually made of Aluminium, or some good headt conducting of Aluminuium] makes the dissipation of heat into the surroundings that much more difficult, so the CPU keeps getting hotter, and can burn if it becomes too hot. I use an AMD processor, so it does not turn off if it becomes too hot as compared to an Intel CPU, which powers down the computer to prevent damage to itself.[I have burnt out an AMD CPU this way, so trust me on this]. The official docs. say that anything <= 70 degreesC is a 'safe' operating temperature for the AMD CPU. The temperature should not cross 90 degreesC, when they mention that the junction breakdown takes place, and you are doomed! However, I have once operated the CPU at 120 degreesC [just for a few seconds though] without it being damaged. [Don't try this at home kids!].

Getting back to the point, if the CP gets too hot, and I started peforming CPU intensive tasks such as encoding wav files to mp3[using lame on Linux], the OS would just hang[because of the overheating], and successive reboots would not help bcause the heat would have not yet dissipated till the computer gets back up. Thus, the computer would also sometimes stall in the middle of a reboot. I began to suspect the temperature quite early on, but I got down to do the cleaning up much later on. When these things became commonplace, and I found it hard to even read .pdf docs on the computer because of constant hanu ups, I decided to open up the computer and do the cleaning myself. And you won't believe the results I ot after cleaning up the internals. The max. temp. of the CPU dropped from a 72 degreesC to a cool 61 degreesC[a drop of about 10 degreesC], which is always a welcome change. I no longer experience such hangups even when perfroming CPU intensive tasks continuously, such as interperting large perl scripts, and encoding music at the same time.

I shall describe in a later message[in detail], how I acuallly got about cleaning the internals of my computer.