Feeds

Good enough for kids

How the BBC's GCSE site makes IT up

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

My ire really kicked in when I read the quiz dealing with operating systems. This effort is notably rich in Mr B's trademark imbecilities. He asks at least two questions whose answers I claim are debatable depending on how you read them, he finally gets to type the word 'programme' where he means 'program', but most of all he indulges himself in that weediest of teacher's gambits: putting in a trick question.

He asks if 'deleting files from a CD-ROM' is a task for the operating system. He hopes that his victim will fail to notice that a CD-ROM proper is a read-only medium (or as he would doubtless put it a read-only media) and answer 'yes'.

Note to Mr B. On my PC, I can put writeable and rewriteable CDs and DVDs into what I call the 'CD-ROM' drive. I therefore describe all these silver discs 'CD-ROMs'. I know I'm not alone in this imprecise practice in our whacky world of 'ICT', and frankly I'm not going to take any lessons in terminology from you, sunshine. So: yes I do think that deleting files on my rewriteable CD-ROMs is a task for the OS. What do you do? Rub them out with your thumb?

But in some places Mr B surpasses himself, and drifts from the world of sloppy-but-arguable stuff into the sphere of demonstrable tosh.

A main frame (sic) he asserts 'operates differently from the simple PC... [it] can process two or more programs at the same time.' Well, stone the crows. More than two, eh? That must be a sight.

He says that 'an ICT system is a set-up consisting of hardware, software, data and the people who use them' (sic again, he means 'use it'). Oh yeah? So, to re-apply your defining technique to another sphere, an 'automobile system' is 'a set up consisting of metal, plastic, petrol and the jerk who just cut me up', eh Mr B?

(I think what Mr B really wants to say, if only he could keep his grammar on the road for half a sentence, is that IT is important because of the way it affects people. This is true enough, if strikingly trite and pompous, but to get his point across he has told a fib, and a lazy one at that.)

He thinks computers that run in real time 'have to be very fast and have a lot of processing power'. What, like the small, old-fashioned undigital computer that lives in my central heating thermostat, Mr B? It's called a 'bimetallic strip' and, although it maintains room temperature in real time it is neither speedy nor a regular star in MIPS benchmark tests.

(Ok, so that's a dodgy definition of 'computer' I'm using there, just to be annoying. Thought we'd give Matey back some of his own medicine. But I'm sure you can think up a straightforward counter-example of your own without straining, so I'm leaving that as an exercise. Latency-schmatency.)

'Multiprogramming' is 'a method of operating such that several programs appear to be running at once' says Mr B, further noting that the term usually applies to 'main frame' operation. On the other hand, further down the same page, 'multitasking usually applies to microcomputers whereby the computer is running a number of applications apparently at the same time'.

Mr B, nobody's multiprogrammed since IBM got permission to fire the man who used to walk in front of the System/360 with a red flag. Even then, my impression is that they didn't use the word in the way you use it, for example see Wikipedia's discussion. I think you don't have a clue what it means, so you made something likely up. Come clean with Aunty Verity. Am I right?

And so on, and on.

Some of these problems stem from insufficient attention when putting the website together. Others just display startling ignorance. It does make me wonder: what price will students pay relying on Bitesize coverage of other subjects?

I can afford to be complacent. Pointing out Mr B's blunders is just jolly fun for me. After all, I have no kids, and I won't be taking the GCSE exam in a few weeks...

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.