Bits, bytes and new energy
Posted on March 12, 2017
When I wrote the last post, I was homesick and tired. When I walked home from RC that Tuesday, it felt as if my soul was empty and sad. Do you know what I mean, that feeling when wherever you look, you only see misery? I decided that I needed a day off from everything. No coding, no movement practice, no nothing. So on Wednesday, I bought some food and went to Chelsea Piers, close to where I live, to just hang out by the water in the sun. That's what you see on the picture above!
It was so totally worth it!! I thought I was going to be tired every day for the last two weeks, but it really helped. Since then I’ve been happy and had a lot of energy. It’s so important to rest, and if you’re anything like me, it’s hard to let yourself do that, especially if you don’t feel like you’ve worked super hard (like every weekend and 12 hours a day). Sometimes you are able to work more, sometimes less. The only way to know what you need is to get to know yourself and listen to what your body and mind is telling you.
This week Anders is coming again, and our friends Annie and Jocke will arrive on Friday. I’m looking forward to hang out with them, eat a lot of awesome food and enjoy New York some more before going back home.
So what about the coding?
Code-wise I’m studying some theory now, and one thing that got stuck on my mind was this things with bits and byte. What is what? How are they connected? Why do we have like “Nintendo 8 bit”, what does that mean? Why do we talk about 8, 16, 32 bits etc? Have you ever wondered about this too? If so, let me tell you about it!
A bit is a unit of information. You know how everyone says that “it’s all just ones and zeroes”. Well, that’s the bit. A bit can either be 1 or 0. That’s kind of it. It represents a binary digit but can also be interpreted as other things, like for example true or false. But let’s focus on the bit as a binary digit. A set of binary digits gives us a certain value. I found a simple picture that explains it, but if you want to know more about the binary numeral system you can read about it here.
Each place represents a value, and if there is a 1, the value is multiplied by 1, and if there is a 0, its multiplied by 0.
So, long ago, in a land far, far away (probably here in the US, New York, July 1956) the computer scientist Werner Buchholz was working on the IBM Stretch computer and said “Hey guys, these chunks of bits that we’re using to represent some value, let’s call them something! It’s almost like a bite of something, like taking a bite from a sandwich you know? Hm.. what to do, what to do. Hey, I know! Let’s call them bytes, so we won’t confuse them with bits! I’m so smart!” (yes that’s definitely what he said, I was there, in my past life). So that was it!
In the beginning a byte consisted of 6 bits. Later on, a byte became the number of bits needed to represent a character in text saved on the computer. That meant that different computers had different byte sizes, like 6, 7, 8, 9, or 12 bits. Since IMBs mainframe and eight-bit microprocessors became popular, the 8-bit sized byte became the most common one and today, hardly any other byte size is used. If you don’t trust me, you can read it for yourself here.