Friday, January 18, 2013

I build huge cans of learning named after a small pink water animal with lots of legs.

I build huge cans of learning named after a small pink water animal with lots of legs. The can of learning fires the tiniest bits of air, hurried up by a field, at rocks to break them into the tiniest bits of matter. We suck all of the air out of the box, leaving only empty space. That way the bits of the rock don't hit bits of air that are in the way.

Another field sucks these bits off of the face of the rock, and into a big box filled with empty space and more fields.  The fields in the box sort the bits by exactly how heavy they are. The force that holds the bits together makes them a little bit lighter, so knowing exactly how heavy they are lets us tell tiny bits holding on to each other from single other tiny bits that are slightly lighter or heavier.
The very heavy bits are actually too big to hold themselves together. So they fall into pieces over time.  We look at how many pieces there are. This tells us the age of the rock.
People wonder how old rocks are.  My business builds cans of learning to tell them.
Brief: Explain your technical job using only the 1000 most common words #upgoerfive

Thanks to Anne and Chris for the brief.

1 comment:

Chris Phoenix said...

I tell a computer what to do. I think about what I want it to do, and then I figure out how to break down the job into very small steps. It's kind of like writing these words. I write until I use a word that's too big, and then I figure out how to say the same thing in smaller words.

The word for "ten times one hundred" is not one of the the ten-times-one-hundred most usual words, and I have to say it with more words. Also, the word "usual" is in the words, but the word I wanted to use is not. So "most usual" sounds strange, but that's how I have to say it.

Computers only know a few hundred words. So I spend a lot of my time at work making up new ways to say things to the computer. Things like "ten times one hundred." Now that you've seen it three times, you know what I mean. I can use it where I want and it's almost like a new word. I do the same thing with the computer: I make up new sets of words, and then use them to make up even more sets. After a while, I can tell the computer to do a lot of things.

Another thing I do is to figure out why the computer is not doing what I think I've told it to do. When I try to tell it what I want it to do, it does what I tell it. But sometimes I use the wrong word, or I forget a word, and then it does something I did not think it would do.

Computers don't actually "think" - they just work with numbers. But they work with a lot of numbers very fast, and it can be hard for me to think about what the computer did. Computers also do not remember most of what they did. So it is hard to go back and tell what the computer did a while ago. So if it gets the wrong answer, I have to think hard about everything I told it. Then I find the place where I told it something that did something I didn't expect, and I change the things I told it to do, and see whether it does what I expect the next time.

Every thing a computer does, like show a picture or play a song, is because there are numbers that tell how bright to make each part of the picture, or how loud to make each tiny part of the song. So by telling the computer how to work with numbers, people can make computers show pictures. Computers can also send numbers to other computers, which is how the World Wide you-know-what works.

When you use a computer, and the computer seems easy to use, it is because someone like me thought about what the computer should do when you do something, and told the computer in very small words what to do when you hit a key or move the hand held pointing thing. If a computer is hard to use, it is because the people who told it what to do did not think enough about what you are trying to do.