Closer To Truth: Is Time Travel Possible?

There is an ongoing PBS TV series (also several books and also a website) called “Closer To Truth”. It is hosted by neuroscientist Robert Lawrence Kuhn. He’s featured in one-on-one interviews and panel discussions with the cream of the cream of today’s cosmologists, physicists, philosophers, theologians, psychologists, etc. on all of the Big Questions surrounding a trilogy of broad topics – Cosmos; Consciousness; God. The trilogy collectively dealt with reality, space and time, mind and consciousness, aliens, theology and on and on and on. Here are a few of my comments on one of the general topics covered – Is time travel possible?

# Is time travel possible? Actually I personally don’t believe time exists. Change exists, and time is just our measurement of rate of change. IMHO time is just a concept. Time is a mental construct that helps us come to terms with change. Some cosmologists say that time was created at the Big Bang, as if time were a thing with substance and structure, but I challenge them to actually create some time in front of their peers or maybe a TV audience or at least produce a theoretical equation or two that would create time. In the meantime, here’s a trilogy of points.

First, the concept of time travel is one of those fun parts of physics. Whether true or not, it is entertaining to play the ‘what if’ game. If nothing else, the concept makes or forces one to think about the nature of reality.

Secondly, Einstein and others have postulated that time travel is a theoretical reality and I’m not in their sort of league that I can dispute the theories. I’ll leave that to others who know the field inside and out.

But thirdly, and most importantly, you can never actually be in the future or the past, only in the future or the past compared to where and when you are now. In other words, no matter how you slice and dice things, you exist in the where-ever and in the whenever in that where-ever’s or whenever’s NOW or in other words in the present. You cannot literally be in any future or in any past since you only experience the NOW which is the present. If you should somehow travel back one hour, you would still experience things as belonging to NOW. If you sleep for one hour then wake up, you are in the future relative to when you went to sleep, but you still find yourself in the NOW.

# Is time travel possible? The answer is both yes and no. Yes, we can travel into the future at one second per second, we do that anyway whether we like it or not. Yes we can travel into the future at a slightly quicker rate by going to sleep or otherwise having our sense of consciousness, our awareness of rate of change (which is what time really is or measures) incapacitated. You get drunk and pass out and the next thing you know you are 12 hours into the future. Yes we can travel into the future as outlined by Einstein’s twin ‘paradox’ where one twin travels at a very high rate of speed outward bound, stops and returns to home base, while the stay at home twin, well, stays home. Upon their reunion the traveling twin finds their stay at home twin to be far older, so the traveling twin has traveled into the future more rapidly than would otherwise have been the case. Yes, you can travel back in time, in theory, according to the apparent theoretical properties that wormholes or black holes can have. No, you can’t travel to the past because of all of those nasty paradoxes. I like the variation on the grandfather paradox whereby you travel back just one hour into the past and shoot yourself dead. That’s a novel way of committing suicide! The other paradox I like is when you go back in time to have Shakespeare autograph your copy of “Hamlet”. Shakespeare isn’t home but the maid promises to have him autograph your book when he returns. Alas, your timing is slightly off and Shakespeare hasn’t yet written “Hamlet”, so when he receives your copy from his maid to autograph, he reads it, and after you return to Shakespeare’s home and receive back your now autographed copy and return home to your own time, Shakespeare now writes “Hamlet”. The paradox is, where did “Hamlet” come from since Shakespeare only wrote it after he had already seen your copy. No, you can’t travel back to the past because if that were possible there would be hoards of time-traveling tourists who went back in time to witness some important historical event or other. No hoards of photo-snapping tourists have ever been documented being present at Custer’s Last Stand, the Battle of the Alamo, the sinking of RMS Titanic, or any one of thousands of similar historical events. Yes, you can travel back in time but only into a parallel universe. If you shoot yourself but it is another you in another universe, no paradox arises. You travel back in time to have Shakespeare autograph your copy of “Hamlet” but in that parallel universe Shakespeare can now write “Hamlet” based on your copy and no paradox results. However, the one point I find interesting is that if you end up in the future, or in the past, are you really in the future or the past? No, the only time you can exist in is the present, your right here and NOW time. It might be a different time from what you previously knew, but still wherever and whenever you exist, you only exist in the NOW.

# Is time travel possible? It could already be the case that time travel has been documented at the quantum level although that could be open to interpretation. Before I get to the specifics, I just need to point out that with respect to the laws, principles and relationships of physics, time is invariant. Operations in physics remain invariant in time whether time is moving as we normally perceive it (past to future) or back to front (future to past). For example, gravity would operate as per its normal grab-ity self in a world where time flowed backwards. There’s many an operation one could film that when the film were run backwards, one wouldn’t be any the wiser. Tree branches blowing in the wind comes to mind, or the coming together, collision, and rebounding or separation of two billiard balls. Okay, having established that when it comes to physics, physics doesn’t care which direction time is flowing, there will be no violations in those laws, principles and relationships of physics future to past, we now come to the delayed double slit experiment.

In the normal double slit experiment, you have an electron gun that fires one electron particle at a time, such that one electron completes its journey before the next one is fired, at two side-by-side slits. If one or the other slit is open, the one-at-a-time electrons pass through the open slit to a detector screen behind the slits. The detector screen gets hit in nearly the same spot every time after each and every electron particle passes through the single open slit. That is straight forward. If both slits are open, the electron shape-shifts into a wave (how I don’t know), passes through both slits (as only a wave can), morphs back into a particle and hits the detector screen. The difference is that after enough electrons have been fired, and have passed or waved through the double slits, the hits on the detector screen are not in just one or two spots but all-over-the-map, albeit all-over-the-map in a classic wave interference pattern. Okay, that’s the classic experiment.

Now we do a variation on the theme, the delayed double slit experiment. Electrons are fired one-at-a-time, with both slits wide open. An all-over-the-map classic wave interference pattern should appear on the normal detector screen after enough electrons have been fired. However, in addition to the normal detection screen, there are two other detectors positioned behind the normal detector screen that are each in an exact line-of-sight with each of the two slits. The electron is fired. It morphs into a wave and passes through both slits then morphs back into a particle. But before the electron, which has already passed through both slits, can hit the detector screen, the detector screen is removed to reveal behind it the other two line-of-sight detectors. Now presumably once the electron has passed though the double slits it’s too little too late to change its mind about where it’s going to hit. Only a tiny few should be detected by the two line-of-sight detectors aligned with the two slits. Alas, each and every electron will be detected by one or the other of the line-of-sight detectors. It would appear that the electron CAN change its mind after it has already gone through both slits and instead appear to have gone through one or the other of the two slits. One interpretation is that the electron, after having passed through both slits, realized the gig was up, traveled back in time, retraced its path and passed through one or the other slit.

As an aside, the late Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman noted that the double slit experiment went to the heart of quantum weirdness. I mention this because it was the same Richard Feynman who suggested that a positron (an anti-electron) was just an ordinary electron that was going backwards in time.

# Is time travel possible? I have several other points to make about the concept of time travel.

Firstly, there is Stephen Hawking’s idea of a Chronology Protection Conjecture which postulates that there is some as yet undiscovered law of physics which prevents time travel to the past and thus makes the cosmos a safe place for historians to strut their stuff.

Secondly, it has been said that you cannot travel farther back in time than the date your time travel ‘device’ was constructed, be it a wormhole or some other gizmo. So if some genius builds a time traveling ‘device’ in 2014, he’s not going anywhere into the past. But in 2015 he can travel back to 2014 and in 2114 he could travel back to any time between 2114 and 2014. The analogy is that you cannot travel through a tunnel prior to when that tunnel was built. Thus, we don’t see human time travelers because no human time traveling ‘device’ has yet been constructed. The flaw there is that doesn’t prohibit ET from visiting who might have constructed a time traveling ‘device’ millions of years ago. Recall those pesky UFOs though they don’t seem to cluster around significant terrestrial historical events so maybe ET doesn’t care about our history and are just here on vacation from their future.

Thirdly, presumably your time traveling ‘device’ is fixed at some sort of celestial coordinates. Because everything in the cosmos is in motion, when you re-emerge into that cosmos after starting on a time traveling journey, while you may be at those same fixed celestial coordinates the rest of the cosmos would have moved to differing celestial coordinates. So, if you start out in London you won’t end up in London on down, or up, the time traveling track. Finally, the concept of your, or the future or of the past or your past is only relative to what you choose as some fixed point. If you pick your date of birth as that fixed point, then clearly you are now in the future relative to your date of birth. If you pick the concept of an ever ongoing NOW, the present, as a fixed point, you are neither in the future or the past relative to the NOW nor will you ever be. That of course doesn’t mean you can’t recall your past, what existed before your NOW (although the past in general is more abstract) or plan for your future after your NOW (although the future in general is beyond your control).

# Is time travel possible? There’s yet another form of time travel, or at least the illusion of time travel, and that’s via the cinema. Films and TV shows involving time travel are many and often legendary. But that’s not quite the medium I wish to explore here. One can program time travel into a computer simulation. You can have a video game where the characters travel backwards (or forwards) in time, or have a software program that loops around back to the beginning. Now the question is, might we be characters or virtual beings in a Simulated (Virtual Reality) Universe? If so, the software programs that run our virtual show might allow for time travel, or virtual time travel, yet still time travel that would appear to us to be quite real. Now where does our sense of deja vu really come from?

# Is time travel possible? There is one other form of pseudo ‘time travel’ towards the future that can be debunked. Presumably the only way you can know what the future brings, without benefit of any theoretical ‘device’ that can propel you there at a greater rate of knots than at one second per second, is to stay alive. Once you kick-the-bucket that’s it. Your second per second journey towards the future is over. It’s a pity that that worthless stock you hold just happens to sky-rocket to fantastic values within a week of your demise, or maybe you’d really like to know if ET exists but the discovery happens a few days too late as far as you are concerned. Of course some might claim an afterlife will enable you to keep up to date with future happenings from that heavenly vantage point high up in the sky, but apart from that, there are those who claim to have led past lives or existed in past incarnations. Thus, you can still continue your journey to discover what the future holds by passing on to another body via being conceived again (and again and again). There’s one huge problem however with ‘remembering’ alleged past lives. Your mother’s egg cell cannot remember your past lives. Your father’s sperm cell cannot have any recollection of your past lives. Therefore, the you that comes to pass at conception cannot hold any memory of past lives. So, where did your memory of past lives come from? Might I suggest that it was internally generated out of wishful thinking, that perhaps a belief that you existed in the past will give rise to a belief that you will exist again in the future, and as a pseudo form of afterlife and as a pseudo form of ‘time travel’ that gives you comfort. Anyway, that concept is a really far out methodology of ‘time travel’ but one which can be dismissed despite the many people who seemingly believe that they indeed have ‘time traveler’ towards their endless future via this method.

Computer Programing

Basic Computer Programing

In this article, we are going to present computer programing and discover how it may be applied to command the way your computer operates. Generally, computer beginners aren’t concerned in controlling the computer, new computer users are commonly concerned in learning more about how it all works. Nevertheless they may be surprised to learn that computer programing increases computer knowledge as a whole and it can assist to decrease the fearfulness and intimidation associated with using a new computer.

Computer programing is creating a succession of commands that enable the computer to do some actions. The people who program computers (called Computer Programers) use a programing language to communicate with a computer. You might have heard of some of these languages in the past such as Visual Basic, C++, or Fortran. There are hundreds of other programing language and neither one is best than the other. Just about all of them are capable of executing the same tasks and accomplishing the same goals. A programmer chooses one language by a simple preference.

Each of these languages differ by the way they communicate with a computer, the commands that they abide by are very specific. Not a single command of one language can be exchanged with the commands or language of another. But all of them can be used to control a computer.

At present it would be impossible to teach you how to program any language in a single article or lesson. But we can still introduce you to some of programing’s most basic concepts – starting with the commands. Commands are the instructions that a computer conforms to perform an action. To make them work inside of a program, programmers assign commands to objects like buttons for example.

The commands in a program are pretty worthless unless they have some data to pursue so programmers either give the programs some information to work with (list of names or numbers for example) or they make the program generate it’s own data. Occasionally, the data comes from an outside source like the Internet or the computer that the program resides. The data that a program receives is called input and data that the program generates is called output.

Other times, the data is unknown. If the program were working with a simple algebra equation like, “x + 5 = y,” the variables “x” and “y” would be unidentified pieces of data. Or if a program were to calculate a date “x” days from now, the variable “x” would be an unidentified piece of data until we tell the program what “x” is. In programming, it’s sometimes required to work with unidentified pieces of data.

That’s when conditions are convenient,conditions allow a program to execute an action based on the event of a previous command. Using this type of command, we could instruct a program to do one thing if the “x” variable in our latter example turned out to be 9 days, and then do different thing if the variable turned out to be 31 days.

Commands, data, variables, and conditions help build the most simple programs and there are certainly more components of any programming language. But when they’re typed into a programing language and compiled to create an executable file (a file ending with the .exe extension), they turn into a software application.

As we mentioned earlier, you can use a programing language to control your computer. By using simple commands, you can program your computer to perform mathematical tasks, fill out web forms, compose an email message and send it off, or any number of other things. If you’re interested, you may find Visual Basic one of the most easiest computer programing languages to learn. Visual Basic is an object-oriented programing language and it automatically codes much of a program the minute a programmer drags a button onto a screen.

Online Computer Programming Degrees – How to Find an Accredited School With a Solid Curriculum

An online computer programming degree can help prepare you for a career as an applications consultant, applications programmer, database programmer, java programmer, lead programmer, mainframe programmer, systems consultant or programmer, web developer or systems analyst.

Although job growth in this field is expected to decline for the 2008-2018 decade, employers are still in desperate need of programmers with strong technical skills, language skills, and proficiency in English. Employers need English-speaking programmers and workers who are knowledgeable about the way U.S. businesses operate in order to meet the company’s specific programming requirements.

To get started on your career, you should enroll in an accredited online computer programming or business degree program with a technology focus. If you prefer to complete only a portion your degree online and the other on-campus, choose the blended format (online and on-campus). Most traditional colleges and universities offer both options, as well as specialty colleges, business schools, and some technical schools.

Before enrolling in any degree program, whether traditional, blended, or online, you should check to make sure the program is accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (Ed.gov). The top accrediting bodies for business schools, technical schools, and traditional colleges and universities include:

-Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
-Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
-Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
-Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)
-The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD)
-Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (regional)
-New England Association of Schools and Colleges (regional)
-North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (regional)
-Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (regional)
-Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (regional)
-Western Association of Schools and Colleges (regional)

In addition to verifying accreditation, spend some time reviewing curriculum and admissions requirements. If you are considering an online computer programming degree program, it is important to note that the traditional computer programming curriculum is still the standard in the academic world. Required major core courses for accredited computer programming degrees are as follows:

-Computer Science I
-Computer Science II
-Assembly Language Programming
-Data Structures and Algorithms
-Operating System
-Programming Languages
-Analysis of Algorithms
-Automata and Formal Languages
-Systems Architecture
-Computer Engineering
-Software Engineering
-Digital and Computer Analysis and Design
-Technical Writing

Algebra (abstract and linear), mathematical statistics, mathematical modeling, probability, differential equations, and discrete mathematics are also on the menu.

When reviewing admission requirements, check to make sure the school requests a completed admissions application, official test scores, official transcripts, recommendation letters, and an application essay. Most accredited computer programming degree programs require no less than a 3.00 GPA.

Learn Computer Programming – You Can Do It!

Almost anyone can learn to program. There are only a few requirements (like having access to a computer), and you don’t have to be a genius. (Well… it helps if you are a genius, I suppose, but you don’t HAVE to be one).

This article addresses some of the motivations you might have for wanting to learn to program computers, looks at some things to consider, and discusses a few different ways to start learning now!

What is it you want to do?

There are a lot of reasons for wanting to learn computer programming, and what you want to do with it can help guide you in choosing your path in learning. Perhaps you are interested in programming as a career. In that case you will want to make sure you are learning things that will make you attractive to those who hire programmers. On the other hand, you might just be looking for a fascinating hobby, and in that case you can let be a bit more casual about what you learn and focus only on things that interest you.

Maybe you need to automate various applications you use at work. For example, perhaps you want to automate a word processor to do mailing labels or a spreadsheet to do customized financial forecasting, or maybe you want to write computer games, or have a cool web site, or… the reasons are endless, just as the things you can do with a computer are.

The languages you learn will be influenced by these things, as well as the approach you will want to take as you begin to learn to do computer programming.

What resources do you have available?

Time, money, people who can help guide you, computers, books, programming clubs, classes, programming forums… these are all resources that will be handy as you are learning to program.

If you have a lot of time and money, a computer, and access to learning opportunities like college classes and developer group meetings, you will probably be able to learn at a rapid pace. If you can only spend an hour or so each day, and you don’t have your own computer, and you can only buy one or two books, you will have to adjust your expectations a bit. However, either way, or somewhere in-between, you will be able to learn to program.

What is the level of your motivation?

This is a very important consideration. This isn’t going to be easy. You are going to need to keep going even when things seem impossible and you can’t find the answers you need. It takes a fair amount of brain power, will power, and the ability to work things out. You will be well served if you can muster a “stick-it-out” kind of attitude.

One of the attractions of computer programming is that there is a lot of problem solving, and you will have to solve a lot of them both while you are learning as well as when you are using your skills to do useful things. It takes a lot of interest and dedication to stick with it long enough to get somewhere – if this still sounds good to you, you will probably do okay.

So, how to get started?

There are a lot of ways to go about getting started. You can get started today, regardless of how you are going to approach this over the long run. Here are a few tips on getting started quickly:

* Learn in baby steps – Start with something very easy, and add to it. There is no advantage to jumping in with both feet unless you have unlimited time and resources.

* The quickest way to start might be to use a language that comes with software you already have. For example, you can do a great deal of programming in Microsoft Word using Visual Basic for Applications. There are numerous commercial software applications that include a way to enhance them using programming or scripting languages.

* Here is another idea for getting started quickly: There are simple languages available with almost every operating system (Windows, Linux, Mac) for automating your repetitive tasks. For example, in Windows you can use VBScript. Again – a simple internet search will get you lots of information.

* Pick a more full featured language that is available free – To get started with the least expense and as quickly as possible, one approach is to download a programming environment for free on the internet. For example, you can download the Ruby language and everything you need to work with it for free. Another example is the Microsoft .NET Express languages (VB.NET or C# are good choices) – again, you can download everything you need for free from Microsoft. A little internet search on either “Ruby Language” or “Microsoft .NET Express” will get you all the info you need.

* Use the internet – You already know this or you wouldn’t be reading this article, but the internet is full of resources to help you learn to program. That makes sense, since the internet has been created and programmed by programmers. A lot of programmers are willing to share their knowledge through free tutorials, forums, tips sites, and articles. You will find links to a lot of good resources just by doing a simple search. One thing is certain, there is no shortage of information.

* Work with what you have, or what you can easily get – To get started quickly, my advice is to do something right away and keep doing something every day. Soon you will be better able to judge what areas are most interesting to you and best fit your needs, as well as where to get the information you need to keep progressing.

* Buy used books – Many of the book sellers on the internet now offer used books through a network of thousands of book re-sellers and private individuals. You can save a lot of money this way.

* Once you get started, write simple programs that help you automate something that is wasting your time. For example, if at the end of every day you make a backup of the files you worked on during the day by copying the files “by hand” to a cd, you could write a program that automatically searches your working folders and copies the files for you – without you having to do anything. The extra time you get from each little helper program you write is time you can use to learn more about programming.

* Find a computer programmers “user group” somewhere near you. Almost all larger cities have such groups that meet on a regular basis – usually monthly. Many of these meetings are free, and usually they provide presentations on “how-to” do various programming tasks. They often also have study groups and beginners sessions. Not all languages are represented in all cites – but anything is better than nothing, so it can be worthwhile to attend any meeting of this sort that you can find that is within a reasonable distance.

* Take a beginners course at a local community college or extended studies program. These classes are usually offered at a very reasonable cost, and will help you get started. I have found a number of these classes available on line – and if you are eligible for entry, it can be very convenient to take a course this way.

It’s time to get started

Programming can be fun, challenging, useful, and profitable. Not everyone has the nature or interest to become a full-time programmer, but almost anyone who can use a computer can learn to do something useful or fun with computer programming. If you think it is something you might enjoy, then I encourage you to give it a try and see what it’s all about. It is going to take time and dedication to become proficient, but it all starts with a single step. So now is the time.

Should K-12 Schools Teach Computer Programming?

It was once popular in K-12 schools to teach computer programming. Languages like Logo, BASIC and HyperTalk used to be taught widely. With all the pressures that young people must deal with today, how can we justify the notion that programming studies be required in our schools? This article will explore this subject in brief.

One great mistake in the field of human endeavor with respect to computers is to overlook how they can be used to think differently about the world we live in. Because most people are instrumental thinkers, it can be more or less taken for granted that any new tool that is invented will be applied to the kinds of work and ideas that already exist. Certainly the computer certainly has spawned lots of new ideas, but its potential has been largely unrealized. In many classrooms computers are used as way to automate drill and repetition, and not as a medium to help the student learn how to learn better.

In the classroom for various reasons (which may relate to money, politics, ideology, and human nature) computer literacy has been ill-defined and paid lip service to. The ability to turn on a computer and operate various appliances like web browsers, instant messaging clients, word processors and the like without the slightest notion of how they actually work is a potentially harmful form of dependency.

Without being given at least a basic understanding of programming our children will not understand what a computer actually is and how it works, and they will not be truly computer literate. This can result in their subjugation to those who use the computer to run the public and private infrastructure. This is no different than other forms of exploitation within other realm of knowledge. As a simple example, a driver who understands how a car works benefits greatly whether driving on the road, broken down at the roadside, or at the counter at the repair shop.

Possessing a true computer literacy would not be of much value in an industrial age, but we are in an information age and so we are surrounded by computers. They are in our workplaces, our cars, our homes, our appliances and our pockets. We rely on these devices and we trust them to work and to give us good information.

As our children grow up they will need to make wise decisions about how computers are used in critical matters of life. As a real and current example, let’s consider computerized voting machines. There is controversy about whether the convenience of such systems is worth the cost of not being able to able to verify the integrity of their operation. An understanding of how computers really work is crucial to knowing how to think about such things. The people running our own legal and government institutions have not demonstrated a sufficient grasp of the issues, but the next generation could be better prepared if we decide it is important.

Is computer programming helpful for enhancing other kinds of thinking in addition to making people wise about the role that computers play in civil society? Let’s cover a few ways that programming is believed to be helpful to thinking and learning.

Organizational – Programming requires that things be organized. Values, functions, and presentation all must be put in their proper place.

Procedural – Writing instructions for a computer forces the programmer to think and understand procedure. This involves understanding and planning.

Abstract – Once the procedural skills are in place, a more advanced programmer will learn to think abstractly. This involves deciding what the program does (what it really means) and dividing the procedural parts up into general ideas.

Mathematical – Not the simple act of computation (3+4=7) or even algebraic thinking, but a real experience of how numbers can be important in the relationships between ideas.

Critical – To create a computer program it is important to weigh one idea against another, and the act of debugging a computer program requires one to think deductively.

It is important to realize that these ways of thinking can be taught without the use of computers. They can be taught in the course of reading and critical writing, debate, scientific discourse, history, politics, musical studies, and art (does this sound like your school?). Computer programming can enhance the benefits of these other activities.

In summary, given the very pervasive and growing impact of computers in our world we would be wrong not to provide our children with a profound understanding of computers and how their lives will be impacted. What’s more, the other ways in which programming improves thinking are useful and enriching in many wide-ranging ways.

Computer Programmer Jobs – Are You Interested in Writing Computer Programming?

Computer programs are responsible for designing the instructions that help computers perform their operations, which involves knowing a series of programming languages. When an engineer needs a program designed, they will give their ideas to a programmer who will take these instructions and encode them into a programming language that a computer can understand, such as java or C++.

These professionals will often repair and modify existing programs in order to improve them, and they may use computer assisted software engineering in order to automate some of the process. Programs used will vary widely depending on the type of information that must be transcribed, and simple projects can be done in a few hours, while others can take years to create.

A computer tester will test a program by making sure that it produces the desired results, and they will keep testing it until the performance of the program is adequate. Computer programmers may also work on developing games and other software that is used for financial planning or entertainment, working with a development team in order to create a finished project.

Computer programmers are typically grouped into one of two categories, which can include applications and systems programming. Applications writers are responsible for writing software programs which will perform a specific task such as word processing or a spreadsheet. Systems programming will create operating systems and networking systems upon which other software will run.

Most of these professionals will work 40 hours a week in a fairly low stress job, and telecommuting is becoming a common practice for programming professionals. Most jobs will require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, although those with sufficient skill may be able to bypass such requirements.

In 2017, these individuals had about 430,000 jobs in America, being employed by almost every industry, although in particular they are utilized by software publishers and financial institutions. Over the next decade, computer jobs should declined slowly as increased automation of coding and outsourcing greatly reduces the cost of software design.

In 2007, the Robert Half Technology Firm found that starting salaries for computer programmers in the middle 50th percentile ranged from $55,250 to $90,250.

Video Games – The Perfect Escape?

Why oh why did you say yes to that last shandy? The kebab seemed like a good idea but your mouth now resembles the inner lining of Phil Jupiter’s underpants. And to top it all off, you’re stuck in a lava filled dungeon and some b*****d has kidnapped your princess. Where did your life go so horribly wrong?

I’ve got news for you, it’s much, much worse. It’s not that you’re hungover playing Super Mario Brothers, it’s that you spend your life “working” at a computer located in a sterile office surrounded by drones. Your only escape? A Friday night binge drinking session down in Clapham, tonsil tennis with a rather suspect femme fatale and bouncing around 8-bit levels crushing the skulls of Goombas with your immense chubby Italian plumber girth the next morning (she didn’t come home with you).

Computer games started out as something completely innocent. I remember my cousins having a version of Pong that despite being an absolute nightmare to plug into the telly, was good fun for ten minutes. Bouncing the ball around with the paddles was hardly Wimbledon. What was, was the 8-bit version of the AELTC’s prestige tournament which was one of the first games I played on the Master System. Still to this day the game mesmerises me, with added career mode, I can’t help but feel I’m there on Centre Court. Especially as I couldn’t play tennis for toffee.
These days, games such as the Grand Theft Auto and Halo franchises take escapism to whole new levels, allowing you to explore entire cities and indulge your wildest fantasies whilst piping hordes of bad guys. There’s a magazine on my desk right now emblazoned with the word “hero”, if only. And whilst escapism is almost at its absolute peak (barring virtual reality), it started way back in the 80s and had as much of an impact then as it does now.

Adult life fundamentally, hasn’t changed much in the last thirty years. Despite numerous advances in technology, supposedly to make life easier, for most of us it’s the usual 9 to 5. Slaving away to line someone else pockets only to come home at some ungodly hour completely exhausted. Eat your dinner, stick on the telly, sleep, repeat. Rather crudely, I hypothesise life requires five different needs: achievement; relaxation; emulation; competition and belonging. At the moment, sitting here in a non-descript office I feel tense, bored, lonely and as if this is just another day to kill on a road that is seemingly going nowhere. No need is being fulfilled, I want to be at home playing video games.

Achievement is the easy one. Those who are successful in life and who feel they are living a good life can point back to a string of achievements. Whether it’s continual progression through the ranks at work, bringing up offspring or jumping out of a plane, nothing beats feeling a sense of achievement. For those starved of such events, video games offer up an easy alternative and its impact is almost immediate. Going back to early arcade games such as Pac-Man and Asteroids, you’re instantly rewarded with level progression and score accumulation (sometimes to reach the feted leader board). Home entertainment systems such as the ZX Spectrum brought games like Manic Miner to the fore. This rise raises the other point that these needs don’t just relate to adult life but to children as well. For kids growing up, a sense of achievement can be gained from doing well at school, well at Physical Education, being praised for good attendance etc… How often would this really happen? Sometimes at primary school, I would feel a greater sense of accomplishment after nailing a few levels of Sonic than at anything I’d done during the day. With the xbox360 console, Microsoft brought the “Achievement” points system based on unlocking hidden secrets or even just by completing levels. Why did they do this? We all love rewards, even more so when they’re obvious. As unnecessary as this development was, it adds another level of achievement to the subtle one already existing.

This brings me to the next “need” – relaxation. Or should I say, Relaxation through detachment. There is no point in me going home to play a computer game where the protagonist is a Customer Service advisor who has to answer the phone and respond to emails all day. They say that during lunchtime it’s advisable to have lunch outside of the office, so that your mind is taken off work and relaxed accordingly. Video games work on the same principal as in they can take you out of work, out of your home life and into something much more wondrous. The aforementioned Super Mario Bros is a great example. I believe it’s the first true example of an ethereal world where you can explore and unlock hidden rewards at whim. Earlier consoles and computers had games containing hidden levels given, but the graphics and memory available pre-1985 struggled to do anything on this scale. Throw in a hero story where you’ve got to rescue a princess and you’ve got the whole package. I could talk about detachment all day long but the upshot is that video games take you to another world at the flick of a button where you can easily forget what your life is really about.

As I mentioned previously, I was bog awful at Tennis when I was a kid. Someone who was not awful at tennis was Stefan Edberg. Although Wimbledon on the MS was licensed, it contained no real players’ names. But my word, did one of the characters look like the Swedish maestro himself. When you’re growing up, role models are important. That seems like a rather obvious thing to say but how many kids lack the proper role models in everyday life? We look up to people and we want to emulate them. We see them achieve great things and we want to achieve them ourselves. When we can’t do something, video games (especially sports titles) are an easy way of emulating our heroes. I played World Cup Italia 90 on the Mega Drive way more than I should have purely because it was the only way of recreating the tournament that I had available. Emulation even boils down to just wanting to be said Italian plumber hero (one was also rather useless with the ladies) or a spiky blue hedgehog thwarting an evil genius.

Emulation follows on to competition. There is nothing like beating a game. All that coding and you’ve still beaten the CPU. Have that Edberg. It’s also great to prove you’re the best at the something, that you’re better than your peers. At work, I have few peers simply due to the mediocrity of my work. Do I want to be better than them? The feeling is hardly tangible. Competition is good for the human spirit. Constantly being challenged is how people get better and successful people thrive on it. The rewards are sometimes obvious, a big trophy, a big pay rise – but sometimes they’re not. Video games offer competition on all levels. Beat the CPU, beat your friends, beat the world. Video games offer a challenge when life falls on its backside. Want an arena to prove you’re better than your mates? Hold a Days of Thunder on the NES competition (not all were impressed… ). Multiplayer games existed in abundance from the days of Pong and now video game tournaments have evolved into a multi-million dollar industry of their own.

That brings me to my final point – belonging. Sega or Nintendo? If you’re into retro gaming that question alone is probably stirring something inside you. Why? Because choosing a console isn’t just about choosing a machine to play with, it’s about choosing a gang, a way of life that’s got be better than its counterpart. Kids and adults alike feel segregation on a daily basis. I was lucky at school as I had good friends with whom I still socialise with to this day. Others were not so lucky. When you move into the professional world it’s only natural that you want to work for a company where you belong. In your personal life, it’s only natural to want to live somewhere in a home with people you love and where you feel you belong. Even before online gaming with its vast communities and friendship came into existence, simply by saying in the playground whether you were a Mega Drive or SNES guy started positive chat about Sonic or Mario alike. They weren’t just consoles, it was who you were.

As much as a holiday might satisfy your relaxation needs or going to a football match satisfy your need to belong, there is nothing as complete as video games to provide the full package after a long day at the coalface.

The Top 5 Reasons We Love Retro Gaming

#5. Games Were Simpler Back In The Day

Video games have unquestionably become more ambitious and impressive in recent years. When you look at the likes of The Last Of Us, it’s impossible to overstate just how far video games have come since people were playing Pong forty-odd years ago. But for all the innovations within the medium, and for all the new fangled ideas and increasingly elaborate control schemes, there’s something to be said for how much more straight forward things were in the games we played as kids.

Gaming today can be difficult for people without the muscle memory that comes from years of dedicated gaming. Give your mum or dad a PS4 controller and if they’re anything like mine they’ll spend half the time playing the game looking down, attempting in vain to remember where all the buttons are. Use the left analog stick to walk, hold X to jog, or tap X to sprint. L2 is aim and R2 is shoot, but R1 becomes shoot if you’re driving because in a car R2 is the accelerator. R3 (that’s when you click in the right analog stick) let’s you look behind you, and to open the menu you need to hold down the touch pad. And that’s just part of the control scheme for Grand Theft Auto 5, one of the best selling games of all time.

Even for seasoned veterans the increasing complexity of games can become a turn off. Super Mario World is still as intuitive as it was back in 1990 because the inherently simple design and pick up and play nature of the game made it timeless. You can give a kid who’s never played a Mario game the controller and within seconds they’ll have worked out how to play. This simplicity is an attractive concept, which is almost certainly part of the reason that retro games like Shovel Knight and Axiom Verge are so popular today. The simpler a game is to play, the more inclusive and immediate the fun. Retro gaming has that in spades, and that’s the reason I’m still playing Super Mario World twenty-six years after release.

#4. Retro Games Have Better Music

As gaming production values have increased over the years, we’ve seen the medium change in many ways. We made the jump to 3D, we now have voice acting, and elaborate cut-scenes tell complicated stories that rival those seen in television or on the big screen. Games today feature fully orchestrated scores or soundtracks featuring popular music that are every bit as impressive as what we’d see in other mediums, but it feels like we’ve lost something along the way, too.

I can still hum the theme music to Treasure Island Dizzy on the Commodore 64. I was playing that game nearly thirty years ago and I haven’t played it since then (and I’ve still never beaten it, damn it) but I can still remember the theme music that plays in the background in its entirety. I played games last week and I couldn’t even tell you if they had music at all.

Because of the simplicity of early games, and without voice acting to tell a story, the music had to be good. Other than a few crummy sound effects, the music of the game was the only aural stimulation that the games provided. There are still great game soundtracks today, but they seem few and far between when compared to the games of my youth. Mega Man, Castlevania, the early Final Fantasy games, and iconic titles like Zelda, Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog – these all featured highly memorable tunes that stick with us long after the last time we played them. I still remember how the music for Commodore 64 classic Prince Clumsy changes when you save the princess at the end of the game like I was playing it yesterday. We can’t really say that about Shadow of Mordor, can we?

#3. Games Used to Work Right Out of the Box

One thing that games from yesteryear unquestionably did better than the games of today is that they, well, worked. You’d think that it should be a pretty fundamental aspect of any product released to the market, but it’s truly staggering how many games in 2016 ship broken, requiring either days or weeks of server tweaks to get the multiplayer working, or enormous day one patches to fix all of the bugs that made it onto the disc. Today, if you don’t have a decent Internet connection in your home, some games are genuinely unplayable, and many others severely hampered.

Street Fighter V released earlier this year, with Capcom promising that the single player Arcade Mode, a staple of the series, would be available to download in July. What if you don’t have an Internet connection? Well, then you’ve got half a game. That’s not a problem we faced when Street Fighter II released on the SNES in 1991. Back then, we had no Internet acting as a safety net for developers. Games had to work right out of the box.

Going back and playing Global Gladiators today is as simple as popping the cartridge into your Genesis and turning on the power. It works now as it did then; exactly as it should, and without any fuss. This is one of the many great things about retro gaming; if you’ve got the game and the hardware you’re pretty much good to go. You don’t need to download drivers, or updates, or patches. You put in the game, and then you play. Just like you should.

#2. Games Used to Be More of a Challenge

Today, anybody who keeps up to date with the latest trends in gaming will likely know of Dark Souls and Bloodborne, and the reputation these games have for punishing difficulty. Gamers flocked to the Souls series in droves, excited to play a title that challenged them and refused to hold their hands. There’s no extended tutorial sections. There’s little in the way of help. You can’t pause. And every enemy can make mincemeat out of you unless you learn their attack patterns and act accordingly. It’s exciting for a game to provide us with an uphill struggle like this, but then, I’m old enough to remember a time when every game was like this. And worse.

Modern games have a tendency to spell things out to the player, often to an almost insulting degree. Popping a disc into a PS4 in 2016 means waiting for the install, then the day one patch, and then when you finally get a controller in your hand you spend the next two hours being walked through the early stages of the game like a kid on his first day of school. Everybody likes a bit of help now and again, but there’s something to be said for just being thrown in at the deep end and being told to sink or swim.

#1. Nostalgia

Nostalgia might seem like a cop out answer; after all, looking back on the past with rose tinted spectacles is often what fans of anything retro are criticized with. It’s easy to dismiss nostalgia as a way of justifying the opinion that everything was just much better in your day, but the truth is that nostalgia is an immensely powerful agent and it shouldn’t be ignored.

Today, we watch rubbish movies and bemoan the use of obvious CGI, but we’ll happily sit through Raiders of the Lost Ark and not bother mentioning that the melting Nazi at the end looks like he’s made out of plasticine. We listen to the appalling pop music of our youths with a reflective smile on our faces while turning our noses up at Justin Bieber’s latest video. And we’ll talk about Final Fantasy VII as though it were second coming of Christ, completely ignoring all of the flaws in the game that we’d hang a modern game out to dry for. Nostalgia is a strong enough influence to make us believe that Sonic the Hedgehog was actually ever good. Now, that’s serious.

The reason a lot of us like playing old games is simply because of the feeling we get playing them. I’ve played hundreds, if not thousands of games in my time as a gamer. And I’m smart enough to know that in that time video games have improved in almost every way. But that doesn’t change the fact that if I load up Street Fighter II I remember the days of playing it during the school summer holidays with all my friends. I remember the day I completed Toejam and Earl with my brother every time I hear the first few bars of its ridiculously funky theme music. And I remember the giddy thrills we got when we first got the fatalities working on Mortal Kombat II.

Playing old games, just as with watching old movies or listening to old albums, transports us to a time in the past that we like to remember. Whether it’s memories of old friends, loved ones, people we may see every day or might have lost touch with, every old game we load up is a window to the past and that’s special. The latest Call of Duty is never going to compete with that.

How To Play Pyramid Solitaire

Pyramid solitaire is a fun solitaire game that’s quite different to normal solitaire- in most solitaire games you build up cards onto a foundation, but in Pyramid solitaire you remove cards! Cards can only be removed when they add up to 13. With it’s easily recognizable layout (shaped like a pyramid), and requiring a combination of luck and skill, it’s a popular solitaire game played by many.

The basic rules are…

  • You win if you can remove ALL cards from play
  • Cards are removed in pairs, when they add up to 13
  • You can deal from the talon at any time
  • You get 2 redeals of the talon
  • Only a maximum of 2 cards are visible from the talon at any time

You can only use cards that are completely uncovered( If a card is in the pyramid but covered by another card, you cannot select it)
For example, if a part of the pyramid looks like this…

... K...
... Q.7...
..2.4.7..
.5.8.K.J.

Initially you won’t be able to pair the Jack with the two (because the two is covered by the five and the eight cards). Start by removing the five and eight. Now the 2 card will be uncovered, and can be paired with the Jack card.

The possible pairings in Pyramid Solitaire are…

King
Six Seven
Five Eight
Four Nine
Three Ten
Two Jack
Ace Queen

Kings are a special case, that are removed on their own.

Pyramid Solitaire Tips

  • Don’t just automatically combine any cards you see. Knowing when to match and when to hold off is usually the difference between winning and losing.
  • Always remove Kings as soon as you can. There is never any reason to keep them in play.
  • Look for cards “trapped” by other cards underneath. You may need to remove specific cards in a certain order to get to them

Here is an example of a “trapped” card…

... 2...
... 5.3...
..8.8.4..
.7.8.6.6.

Notice the five has 3 eight’s underneath it. Fives are removed with eights, so we’ll need to pay special attention to this inversion. That 5 can’t be matched with any of the eight’s underneath it. Wherever the other 8 is, we will need to keep it for THIS five. If we use it on another five, then we will never be able to remove this one, and the game will become unwinnable.

That might sound a little complicated but don’t worry too much about it- you’ll start picking it up effortlessly the more you play.

Pyramid solitaire can be quite hard sometimes. In fact some deals are actually impossible to complete.

Photography Website Music and Why it Hurts Your Business

Are you on the search for music for your photography website? If you are, then read this article first as you may be shooting yourself in the foot. As you are probably aware, many photography website templates, especially the flash ones, will let you upload music files that will play automatically when a visitor opens the page. While this may seem like a good idea to you, it is best to consider the effect that this may have as it is probably not what you intended.

Granted you probably will upload your favorite tunes that coincide with the type of photography that you produce. Your hope is that it will set the mood for the viewing pleasure of the audience and help them feel more connected to you.

In actuality, photography website music will probably just annoy, irritate and frustrate your visitors more than anything. Don’t believe me? Here is why…

Differing Musical Tastes

Music taste is as varied as snowflakes. So what may seem wonderful to you may seem awful to your visitor. (Do you like what your kids listen to?) Consider all the different types of music out there from Rock and Roll, Pop, Jazz, Hip Hop, to Country. Which of these genres is your favorite? Now what are the chances that your visitors will like the same music? Well the chances are pretty low. Don’t turn them off to your photography just because of differing musical tastes.

Silence is Bliss

Right now if you are reading this article you are on the internet. Now what else are you doing besides reading this article? Perhaps you are in an office with other co-workers? Perhaps you are on your couch with your spouse watching TV? Perhaps you have the radio on or you are listening to your favorite CD. Chances are that there is something going on that would be interrupted or disturbed by a sudden and unwelcome intrusion of music. What if a song started playing right now? What would your initial reaction be? If you are like most people, you would immediately reach for the mute button on your speakers or computer. You might even leave this page to quell the nose. This is a natural reflex. Don’t make your website visitors do the same thing!

Play It and Pay

Another item to consider is the legality of placing music on your website. If you bought your favorite song from Itunes and are posting it on your site, then you are breaking the law. That is because you bought the right to use the music for your own use, but not to share it with other people. You would need a special license with the right to share with the general public. The way to get around this is to purchase royalty free music that does not have the same limitations. You can find this type of music online by doing a Google search, but you won’t find your latest top 40 songs.

The Upside of Music to Sell Your Photography

So is it all bad? Well to be honest, it is mostly bad. But, if your visitor does like your music and doesn’t have anything else going on, then they may enjoy listening while they browse your picture gallery. Will this make it more likely that they will book a session? I have no proof of that, but it is possible. Additionally, you may find it useful to play soothing music during a proofing session in your studio. This is a much more controlled environment and you know that you have your clients full attention.

The Bottom Line

Well in conclusion you can see that my recommendation is to not put music on your photography business website. I believe that the cons outweigh any possible upside. If you must put music on, then don’t make it play automatically. Let them choose to turn it on if they want to. There is just too much of a downside in lost or annoyed visitors to justify the few positive reactions that you may receive.