Monday, November 29, 2010

Sci-Fi meets Today...

Technology, computers and our changing world

We were amazed by some jaw-dropping facts, and were sure given a thing or two to think about tonight and for a long time to come.

Before I continue, here is the agenda for this evening:
  • Take register
  • Year-end function - donations, eats, and drinks
  • Welcome and hand over to Mr. Wessels
  • Thank you Mr. Steyn (tog bag and pens)

Our guest speaker for tonight was Mr. Jacques Wessels. Mr. Wessels works at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University where he manages around 6000 computers. He also runs his own Information Technology business and holds various degrees and qualifications.

He started off by explaining what the internet really is and the whole internet is connected. We were fascinated by the process involved in a simple Google search - all the way from the computers my lab, via some place in the middle of the country to the SEACOM landing point on the Eastern SA coastline, through a fibre-optic cable around Africa through the Suez Canal to Europe and then on to the United States of America, AND BACK, all of that within a second. That simple Google search doesn't seem so simple anymore, does it?

Mr. Wessels also taught us how the images on our computer screens are compiled and how the human eye interprets the three basic colours. He gave us a better understanding of a graphics card's refresh rate and why having a good graphics card is important when playing most computer games.

We were also told about many other uses of computers as used in the medical profession, and even warfare. What was term he used? ...ah, "soldiers of information".

Our guest speaker ended off with a really cool video on some amazing futuristic technology which we already are capable of. Things which were seen in Sci-Fi movies not too long ago and thought to be impossible are here! now!!! Can you imagine what will be possible even just two years down the line?

If there's one thing which our members really must take home from this presentation then it is that IT is moving fast and it moves even faster every year, so don't get left behind. Pay attention to what is said in the classroom, and pay attention to the technology around you.

And as if the presentation wasn't enough. Mr. Steyn (Nandie's dad) surprised us with some give-aways which consisted of a tog bag and two pens. Thank you very much for that.

More give-aways
You might have noticed that your child came home with a pencil case and pen last week. That was courtesy of Moore Stephens Chartered Accountants. Thank you to Mindie's folks for that.

Photographic Competition
The Sunridge Computer Club photographic competition was won by Shanon Schotlz for her photo of an apple held by two hands and surrounded by ice. It was not an easy decision. There were many beautiful photographs. Luckily I left it up to Beverly Darlow Photography to choose the winner. Bev handed Shanon's prize over to her last week. Thank you to everybody for your effort.

Sunridge Computer Club year-end function
Thank you again to the Whitlocks for sponsoring the club's year-end function with a braai and plenty of activities to keep the members busy. It was my idea to have a year-end function but the Whitlocks turned it into an event to really look forward too. Then to the rest of the parents who contributed so generously with money, cooldrinks, chips, and salads - thank you very, very much. Just like every club meeting, this event really cannot happen without your help.

Saying goodbye
Although the computer club still has the braai to look forward to, tonight was the last official club meeting. It is time to say goodbye to our grade 7 members, and goodbye to the year 2010 with all the good that it brought us with the World Cup.
It is strange how I sit down to write this blog right after I get home from every club meeting and wonder what all I could say. So I bring my dinner to my study and I sit and think, and type, and check, and post, etc. And then somehow, as by some cosmic rule, I always finish the blog just before midnight. ...yes, just like tonight...

...Which reminds me. Sorry for keeping the members a bit late this evening. I think you'll agree that I have been very punctual so far, keeping in mind the moms who sit and wait in their cars for the duration of the meetings, and the dads who collect their children at the specified time. But, as I'm sure you're children have told you, tonight's talk was very interesting and although I kept rushing Mr. Wessels towards the end, I could not help but allow him to continue past the scheduled time.


Besides the club's year-end function on Monday, 6 December at 13:00, the next club meeting for next year's grade 7s will be on Monday, 24 January 2011 at 17:15.

This is Motherboard sighning off. :-)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Where does this go?

Have you ever watched the lions at Sea View Lion Park on a Sunday afternoon at feeding time??? Now replace the food in that equation with computer parts, and the lions with computer club members - and then you'll have a pretty accurate description of what happened at tonight's club meeting. :-)

But first, the agenda.
  • Taking register
  • Photo competition
  • Next meeting's guest speaker
  • End of year function ideas
  • Lesson: Hardware one 0 one

Photographic Competition

It seems that all my begging paid off. I finally received all the entries for the Sunridge Computer Club Photographic Competition. There were some "ok" ones, some good ones, and then there were some truly fantastic photographs. I think I already have my favourite but, it is not my decision. I'll leave that for the expert. I will rename all the photographs with just a code to ensure a completely unbiased decision, and send it off to Beverly Darlow Photography for the judging by Wednesday, the 17th of November. Well done everyone!

Next Guest Speaker

Our next guest speaker is from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. The date for that is Monday, 29 November 2010. But more about that later.

PARENTS, Please Help

I thought it would be nice for the computer club to round off the year with a bit of a year-end function - something purely social. As you probably know, the computer club has no funding of it's own. What I'm asking from you, the parents, are any of the following: 1) ideas, 2) sponsorship, 3) venue; 4) transportation. Just something small. Maybe a picnic, or pizzas somewhere, perhaps braai hamburger patties and have hamburgers, etc. Some of the members suggested going to the beach. I'm concerned about safety and transport but if those two obstacles can be overcome then it is also an option. I will give you some time to think about this before I bug you with an email message on Friday asking you for help.

Lesson: Computer Hardware

I set up two long tables in my lab filled with computer parts and started the lesson with a "this does that, and that works like this" lecture. We discussed some of the main computer components like: hard drives; CD/DVD drives; memory chips; IDE cables; power supplies; CMOS batteries; circuit boards; ports; central procession units; etc. We looked at how they work together, the do's and the dont's, the "is" and the "was", and so on.

Then I allowed the members to disassemble and explore all the parts WITH ONE CONDITION - "you must be able to put back together what you take apart". Hehee Easier said than done.

It was obvious that everyone had great fun, and there was no lack of engagement. It became clear that my members were not content with just taking one or two covers off. They insisted on getting right down to the core of the object. I was amazed at how far the girls got with the CD ROM drive of an old laptop. Even an old keyboard was stripped down to the point that I hardly recognized it. Some of the boys basically took the whole computer box apart. One or two did a good job with taking their fingers apart too. Sorry about that Mom. But hey, what's a little blood and sweat in the name of science...

Putting it all back together again went better than I thought. Although, judging from all the spare screws I was suddenly left with, I think there was some cheating involved here. :-)

This lesson really should have come with a "Don't try this at home" warning.


  • Next club meeting = Monday, 29 November at 17:15
  • Winner of Photographic competition to be announced before next meeting

This is Motherboard signing off.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Database to you...

Celebrations are at hand as we celebrated my 28th... uhm 25th... I mean 21st birthday before moving 0n to our lesson on Databases tonight.

But first, the Agenda:

  • Taking register
  • ThinkQuest registrations
  • Votes on Sunridge uniform badges
  • Photographic competition
  • Birthday party
  • Database lesson

We had ourselves a little party, got sung Happy Birthday to (I think I know who's responsible for that) :-) and I was showered in birthday presents. Speaking of "showering" - I promised myself that I would not single out anyone but I really do have to thank Floppy Drive for the Body On Tap citrus burst SHAMPOO for greasy hair. As I've been shaving my head for the past 13 years, I never realized that shampoo now comes with "up to 45% more volume". If one's hair is measure in volume then mine must be on mute. :-)

Other gifts included loads of chocolates; a PC Pilot magazine (I don't know how she knew this but I'm a computer flight simulator freakazoid); yummy Woolies soetkoekies; a nice bottle of shiraz; some really weird finger, ear, and brain sweets; and a beautifully decorated coffee mug overflowing with the most amazing Woolies eats (which I'm digging into as I write this blog by the way).

Thank you everyone, you're the best!

Now onto business

Tonight the question was asked: "What is a database and what would the definition thereof be"? Some really good explanations were brought to the table and we came up with the following definition: A database is an organized collection of information which can be easily be stored, updated, and retrieved.

We listed some of the databases we would imagine our details to be recorded on. I should have known that with a clever group like this, this list would be a long one. We considered everything from banking details at banks; contact details on mxit; medical details at our doctors and dentists; personal details and detention at school (ask your kids about Scadsys); and libraries keeping track of the books we borrow. This list is practically endless.

Finally we looked at just three parts of a typical database and how they work together:

  1. The Table where all the raw data is stored
  2. The Form which we use to enter and update information into the table
  3. and the Report which is used to retrieve just the required information in a user-friendly format.
We also compared computer databases to old filing cabinet methods of storing records. Hmmmm. No comparison.

Photographic Competition
I have, to date, only received six members' photographic competition entries. You have until the 15th of November to email your entry to Of the entries I have so far, a couple of them look really good and it is clear that a lot of preparation and imagination went into it. Remember, there's a R550.00 prize to be won.

Last week's photo shoot
I received the photographs which Beverly Darlow took of us all with the last club meeting, and they look really nice!!! I will only release these photographs to the individual once I received his/her entry to the photographic competition.

Next Club Meeting

Our next club meeting will be on Monday, 15 November at 17:15.

Thank You

Thank you for our members' commitment and especially to the parents for getting everyone here on time. Thank you once again for all the wonderful gifts - you really made my day.

This is Motherboard signing off.