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Small computers are all around us

smallcomputerWhen you think of a computer, what comes to mind? To most people, the answer would be a laptop, desktop or even a tablet to most people. What most people don’t think of, however, is that computers these days come in all shapes and sizes. Another common example would be your phone. Inside of that little case, is something called an ARM processor doing all the calculations that a full blown computer would do. Pocessing code, doing math, the only difference between a tiny processor in your phone and a supercomputer is the speed that it’s able to perform the calculations.

The members of society who heavily are into computers have ingenuously developed many different kinds of systems to do different operations, all of which can be considered a computer in the end. For example, there exists a little board called an Arduino. An Arduino is a little computer board designed so digital devices and the physical world can interact with each other. Here at Cathedral Prep, an example of where we would use a little system like this would be in a projector controller. A touch screen wired into an Ardunino, which has been pre-programmed to display different options. With each selection, it sends a digital signal out which activates other devices, such as a projector.

Next up in the world of smaller computers, is a little device called a Raspberry Pi. Running a little operating system called Raspberries usually, for more technical users, this being a version of the Debian OS. What is an operating system? When you boot up your laptop, you usually see a statfus screen saying “Starting Windows.” You are using the Windows operating system. For those who use Mac or iPad, you may have the OS X or iOS operating system installed on your device.

Each of these are a little different, but have their own perks. The big difference that you as a user might not see, is how these systems are programmed, and how you’re able to work with them from a developer standpoint. The Raspberry Pi was made specifically for when you’re given an environment which has high flexibility for creation. Webpages, scripts, even something more on the simple chain of things such as getting the weather and displaying it to you on a screen of some sort.  While being the size of about a credit card, the board is used quite often in teaching people who are getting introduced to computers, allowing them to get some experience of their own, while having the needed hardware to accomplish a wide variety of things without a large computer. Once you finish up with the project for the day, you merely slip it into your pocket and walk onwards.

There are endless amounts of computer variations, all made to do a task more efficiently than something else. The list could go on and on, although what’s important is to understand that there is always more to computers than you see. Advertisement companies love to recycle the same system over and over again, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily. Users who use them for recreational purposes, or even for basic operations such as word processing could probably do very well with what is being advertised. There’s always more tools for specialization however. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, there’s a huge market existing to sate your digital needs. You never have to look far.

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